La Liga: Villarreal 0 – 1 Atlético
A classic Fernando Torres goal hands Atleti all three points
Atlético gave themselves a six-point cushion in third place after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Villarreal at El Madrigal on Wednesday evening.
A vintage goal from substitute Fernando Torres was the only score of the game, and El Niño showed some great composure to give Atleti the lead in the second half.
The first chance of the game fell to Joel Campbell just after the one minute mark, but the Villarreal number 10 could only strike the ball straight at a waiting Jan Oblak.
Atleti were getting the ball in good positions for the opening ten minutes, but couldn’t carve out any clear cut chances.
Los Rojiblancos did have a shout for a penalty turned down after a tangle of legs between Jokic and Antoine Griezmann. With an arm across his shoulder, the Frenchman went down but the referee waved away the appeals for a spot-kick. It looked like it should have been a penalty.
Atleti started to enjoy more possession as the first half went on and took control of the game. A long cross from Koke found an unmarked Arda Turan, but the Turk could only get the back of his head on the ball in and it bounced wide of Asenjo’s goal.
Tempers flared when Victor Ruiz flew through the back of Mario Mandzukic, but the referee didn’t produce a card.
It was then a fantastic reflex save from Oblak that stopped Ruiz from giving Villarreal the lead. A hopeful cross in was met by the rising head of Ruiz, but Oblak reacted well to bat away the attempt.
Moreno then followed up the save with a shot at goal but former Villarreal man Diego Godín produced a goal-line clearance to prevent Atleti from going behind.
A Mandzukic header into Asenjo’s side netting was the closest Atlético got to the lead in the closing minutes of the first half, and Simeone’s men went into the half time break time knowing that on the balance of play, a draw was probably fair.
Atleti made a double substitution on the hour mark, bringing off Arda Turan and Mario Mandzukic. Replacing two of our key men were Saúl and Fernando Torres, who was searching for his first goal since scoring against Getafe in March.
Captain Gabi also then made way for Raúl García to inject a bit of life into the Atlético attacking play.
Villarreal were the team that had the first real opportunity of the second half. Moreno took advantage of some slack Atletico defending but a fantastic block from Diego Godín sent the ball out for a corner to the home team.
But it was El Niño, who showed composure unbefitting of his nickname, that gave Atlético the lead.
A clearance from Koke was headed back to the Villarreal defence, but a slip from Bally put him on the back foot.
Fernando Torres accelerated past the young defender before picking up the ball, rounding the goalkeeper, juking past the sliding cavalry and calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net. Vintage Torres. 1-0.
Antoine Griezmann had a big chance to make it 2-0 just a short time later, but after breaking through on goal, Asenjo was equal to a stinging shot from the Frenchman.
Then followed the worst moment of the night. After jumping to catch a corner, Sergio Asenjo landed awkwardly on his standing leg and bent his knee sideways. He went down hard and his screams of agony could be heard around El Madrigal.
In his four seasons at Atlético Madrid, he suffered two serious knee injuries, and it was no doubt going through everyone’s mind that it could be another.
Asenjo was surrounded by both Atleti and Villarreal players but to the relief of the entire stadium, he walked off of the pitch without the need for a stretcher. Juan Carlos came on as the replacement goalkeeper.
It was Villarreal who then had a huge shout for a penalty turned down after it looked like Saúl had handled the ball in the area. Nothing doing from the referee.
Jokic then played a through ball into Mario, but he couldn’t keep the shot on target and it flew high into the crowd.
The home side kept piling on the pressure and a fierce deflected shot from Trigueros fizzed just wide of Oblak’s post.
The resulting corner came to nothing and Atlético held on to claim all three points, six points clear of Sevilla who have moved into fourth place. Valencia travel to Vallecas to take on Rayo tomorrow.
Who was your Man of the Match? What did you think of our performance? Our own ratings coming soon!
|Villarreal||0 1||Atlético Madrid|
|F Torres 74'|
|29 April 2015|
|J Carlos (85')|
|F Torres (62')|
|Raúl García (69')|