Copa del Rey: Real Madrid 2 – 2 Atlético
Torres brace sends Atleti through to Copa del Rey quarter-final
Atlético Madrid marched through to the Copa del Rey quarter-final with a 4-2 aggregate win over cross town rivals Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu.
A confident display by the La Liga holders was enough to extend Atleti’s unbeaten run in the el derbi madrileño to 5 games in all competitions.
Jan Oblak continued his role as the goalkeeper for Copa games stepping in for the ever reliable Moyá. Miranda was back in the starting eleven as well after being ousted by the young Uruguayan Giménez. Simeone opted for experience as he chose Siquiera over Lucas Hernández to marshal the left side of the defence.
Also, a certain Fernando Torres formed the head of the Atleti attack due to Mandzukic coming down with an illness prior to kick off. It didn’t take long for the prodigal son to remind Real Madrid fans of his presence back in the capital, 49 seconds to be exact.
Siquiera played the ball out to Koke and with his first touch cushioned it for Mario Suárez who had spotted Griezmann making a run out on the left hand side. The Frenchman let the ball fall into his instep before accelerating down the wing, leaving a disgruntled Pepe in his wake.
Griezmann strode into the box, took one look up then clipped the ball over to Fernando Torres who was lying in wait just outside the 6 yard box. With one swing of his left boot the Spaniard finally scored at the Bernabeu with Atleti and took the aggregate score to 3 – 0 in just under a minute.
The small section of travelling Atlético fans filled the silent Bernabéu with screams and cheers but the goal had not subdued the 11 Real Madrid players who began an assault on the Atleti goal.
The barrage of crosses and shots that attempted to pierce the ‘best defence in Europe‘, quote courtesy of the Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, were unrelenting and it seemed that the 22 year-old goalkeeper Oblak was up to the challenge.
The Slovenian had to deal with efforts from Bale, Pepe and Ronaldo within the opening 15 minutes but stood firm.
The ball rarely left Atleti’s half but when it did Torres would try his best to hold up play until either Raúl García or Griezmann accompanied him. The centre-back pairing of Ramos and Pepe faced a new menace in red and white as Torres tussled with the two whenever possible.
Fernando Torres’ adrenaline got the better of him as he gave away a needless free-kick just outside the penalty area in the 19th minute. Toni Kroos whipped in a teasing cross which Oblak couldn’t resist, but unfortunately his collision with Godín en route left him on the floor inadvertently allowing Sergio Ramos to head in to an open net. The score was tied and the Atlético defence had been bested.
Real Madrid continued to ramp up the pressure and refused to ease their grip on possession. Los Blancos peppered the goal as they tried to utilise their momentum and very nearly took the lead during a scrappy goalmouth scramble in the 29th minute.
Atleti persevered and reached the interval level with the aggregate score at 3-1. Despite having a 3 goal cushion, the game felt far from over. But, as always, Atleti refused to read the script.
A poor clearance from Real Madrid was intercepted yet again by Griezmann who charged at the box and, almost like a re-run of the first goal, dinked it into the path of Fernando Torres who rolled back the years with a cut in, which left Pepe on his backside, before calmly slotting the ball between the legs of Keylor Navas.
Torres had his second before many of the home fans even got a chance to get back to their seats, as El Niño went 19 seconds better than his first, scoring exactly 30 seconds from kick off.
5 minutes later Torres had the chance to grab a hat trick as he cantered into the box yet again. His sharpness still not back to it’s best as he failed to register the shot and consequently missed out on the chance to put Raúl García through on goal with the goalkeeper.
Although Real kept up their pressure it became Atleti who seemed the more dominant as they pushed further up the field.
Jan Oblak’s confidence was noticeably knocked by the nature of the first goal he conceded and this carried on into the second half as his mishandling of a Ronaldo header in the 53rd almost spilled out amongst a sea of white shirts.
His luck run out in the following minute as Gareth Bale tore down the flank and delivered a cross which Cristiano Ronaldo nodded into the back of the net. The equaliser tied the game again at 2 – 2, with the aggregate score now reading 4-2.
Atlético Madrid, despite this setback, seemed unaffected as they carried on with their game plan. Los Rojiblancos passing became more confident and possession was starting to creep up in favour of the visitors. This nonchalant display was reinforced with the introduction of Arda Turan who replaced hero of the night, Torres, in the 57th minute.
As Atleti started to play more on the front foot, chances rose for Real who countered with speed.
Real’s closest chance for a winner came in the 67th minute as Benzema’s blocked header fell fortunately for him at his feet, but the Frenchman could only fire over the bar.
Calm was restored at the back when captain Gabi was brought into the game in the 73rd minute to replace Griezmann, who was a close runner-up for man of the match tonight. Simeone also maintained an attacking outlet by bringing on Mexican Raúl Jiménez for his namesake Raúl García.
Atleti played out the rest of the game maintaining possession and neutralising any attacks that came from Real whose players showed signs of frustration, exemplified by Isco’s late challenge on Gabi in the final stages of the match.
The draw knocked out Real Madrid on aggregate and sealed a quarter final showdown with Barcelona. Fernando Torres stole the limelight with two brilliant goals which will be long remembered by Atleti fans but neither would have been possible without the hard work of Griezmann who put in a first rate performance.
Another stand out performance was that of Mario Suárez who shone in midfield, moving the game seamlessly from defence to attack at times. Atleti face Granada on Sunday as they now focus on getting their league form back on track.
|Ramos 20'||Torres 1'|
|Ronaldo 54'||Torres 46'|
|Copa del Rey|
|15 January 2015|
|Raul Garcia (81')|
|F Torres (58')|
|Raul Jimenez (81')|