La Liga: Eibar 1 – 3 Atlético
Griezmann and Mandzukic on target as Atleti win in wet conditions
Atlético Madrid braved the rain-soaked conditions in Ipurua on Saturday night to come away with a 3-1 win against Eibar, a crucial three points ahead of next week’s derby against rivals Real.
Antoine Griezmann got the ball rolling early on with a well taken goal, and a Mario Mandzukic double made the game safe before half-time. Eibar pulled one back late on through Piovaccari, but the damage had already been done.
After exiting the Copa del Rey in an ill-tempered clash with Barcelona in midweek, the pressure was on Diego Simeone and his team to return to form against the La Liga newboys, and they did so in style with a very impressive performance.
Conditions in the tiny Estadio Municipal were appalling, heavy rain making the pitch almost impossible to play on but amazingly, the game was given the green light to go ahead.
However, the red and whites weren’t phased, and took control from the first whistle. On just seven minutes they were ahead, scoring in typical fashion through the combination of two players nurtured in the Basque Country.
Former Osasuna favourite Raúl García collected a long punt forward from Tiago, and got his head up to find the run of the in-form Antoine Griezmann, who made no mistake with an arrowed left-foot finish.
The Frenchman, signed from Real Sociedad in the summer, took his tally to 8 goals in 9 games, and has really come into his own this last month for the capital club.
Soon after he turned provider, helping his strike partner Mario Mandzukic get in on the act and double Atlético’s lead. After Saúl won the ball inside the box, Griezmann picked it up and played a perfect ball for the Croatian to convert for 2-0.
The visitors looked to be relishing the conditions, and were really making Eibar pay with a series of ruthless finishes.
On 25 minutes, Mandzukic put the result beyond doubt with his second and the team’s third, robbing the defence on the edge of the area before rifling past the helpless Irureta.
It was a master-class in how to play on such a waterlogged pitch, and at times looked almost too easy for Atleti, who had the luxury of being able to play in second gear for the majority of the match.
The home side have earned many admirers this year for their plucky, never say die attitude though, drawing comparisons to their more famed opponents. Just before half-time, Moyá had to be alert to stop Arruabarrena from scoring, getting down well to make a crucial block.
Up at the other end, Saúl could’ve made it four if not for an equally smart intervention from Irureta. Raúl García and Griezmann both had chances on the rebound, but this time were unable to capitalise.
Manager Gaizka Garitano opted to make all of his changes at the break, and threw on Dejan Lekic, Javi Lara and Ander Capa for the second period. However, the damage had been done and the game soon fizzled out into a more pedestrian affair.
Mandzukic continued to plug away in attack, really giving the Eibar centre-back pairing a tough evening. Midway through the half he had a golden opportunity for the hat-trick after getting on the end of Koke’s cross, but couldn’t get enough power on his header.
Atleti also had a couple of penalty shouts turned away – both handballs – but nothing was doing for referee Pérez Montero. Saúl did go into the book for a similar offence, but it seems the same rules don’t apply inside the box in Spain.
In the closing stages, Eibar were rewarded for all their endeavour and grabbed a consolation goal through Piovaccari, who bundled in from close range following some good wing-play from Saúl Berjón.
The goal was a cheap one to concede from our defence’s point of view, but did little to take the shine off of a very mature showing from Simeone’s men.
With the derby coming up in a week’s time, Atleti also did well to come through without any injuries or suspensions. God-willing, we will have the whole squad available for Real Madrid’s visit to the Calderón.
League-wise, we have now won 12 of our last 14 and remain in contention at the top of the table. Despite the cup exit, we now have a few weeks without any midweek action before the Champions League returns, so will get some crucial rest ahead of the season’s business end.
All in all, a very good evening’s work in Ipurua for Atleti, who should now be full of belief that they can get three points next Saturday.
|Piovaccari 89'||Griezmann 7'|
|31 January 2015|
|Javi Lara (45')|
|Mario Suárez (55')|
|Raúl Jiménez (70')|