La Liga: Sporting 2 – 1 Atlético
Atlético bow out of title race with crushing defeat at Sporting Gijon
Atlético Madrid waved their fading title hopes goodbye on Saturday afternoon, after they crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Sporting Gijon at El Molinón.
In a match that virtually seals the title for Barcelona, Atleti gave away a one-goal lead and collapsed in the second half, letting 19th placed Sporting take advantage of slack defending and a poor performance all round for Atleti.
Diego Simeone seemed content to stick with a 1-0 goal lead, and brought off Griezmann, Vietto and Correa in the second half, which eventually sealed Atleti’s downfall.
Antoine Griezmann had an opportunity for Atlético in the opening minute to start the match, but couldn’t keep his feet inside the Sporting Gijon box.
It was a first-half that was void of chances until Saúl was brought down by Pablo Pérez outside the Sporting area. This gave Atleti the perfect opportunity to have a strike at goal, and it was one that Antoine Griezmann did not pass up.
The Frenchman stood up and curled the ball into the top-right corner of Sporting’s net to give Atleti the lead. It was the youngster’s 17th goal in the league this season, and he’s now scored in each of Atleti’s last five league games.
Ángel Correa had the chance to double the lead in the closing stages of the first half, but couldn’t keep his feet either and skied Griezmann’s cross over the Sporting crossbar.
Atlético were happy to let Sporting have the ball for the majority of the match, although the home side weren’t able to create a great deal.
Atleti’s 4-3-3 didn’t seem to be working, and Simeone replaced Correa with Gabi on the hour mark. It was a game that largely passed Ángel Correa by, and the Argentinean had very little impact in his 60 minutes on the field.
Fernando Torres entered the frey a short time after, replacing the goalscorer Griezmann. And the third prong of Atleti’s attack, Luciano Vietto, was replaced by Juanfran a short-time later.
Atlético were evidently happy with their one-goal lead (and one shot on target) and chose to protect it from the desperate Sporting.
Sporting had a huge chance to draw level from a well designed free-kick late in the second half. Sanabria beat Oblak but saw his chance crash off of the outside of the Atleti goalpost.
It wasn’t long after this before Sporting were level, another goal from a free-kick.
Sanabria struck the free-kick into the busy Atlético wall, and his shot deflected off of Kranevitter’s boot and out of Oblak’s path. The goalkeeper could do very little to stop it, and the tide had turned against Atlético.
The game almost came crashing down around Atlético in the final five minutes. Sanabria was on the Atleti wing, and Giménez pulled his hamstring trying to keep up with the Paraguayan.
The Atlético defender stopped and let Sanabria run clear at the Atlético goal. He squared the ball to Castro who crashed a shot off of the Atlético bar from eight yards out. Unbelievable let-off for Atlético.
However it wasn’t to be the end of the tortue for Atlético, and in the final minute of the game, Sporting completed the comeback and took the lead. Jony was able to find the ball in the Atlético box, and square across to Carlos Castro.
The Sporting player wasn’t going to miss again, and calmly rolled the ball into the back of Oblak’s net. 2-1 to the home side.
It’s the end of Atleti’s title hopes, and now all of Atleti’s focus must be on the Champions League clash with Barcelona in 2 weeks time.
|Sanabria 79'||Griezmann 29'|
|19 March 2016|