La Liga: Villarreal 1 – 0 Atlético
Rojiblancos well beaten as Baptistão hits winner against parent club
Atlético Madrid were left red-faced against Villarreal on Saturday night, as loanee Léo Baptistão scored the only goal of the game to earn a deserved three points in El Madrigal.
Diego Simeone’s men never quite got going on the east coast, and were left ruing a boardroom decision rather than missed chances or bad luck against the Yellow Submarine.
After making six changes to the team for Tuesday home win against Getafe, Cholo made another six tonight and opted for Jackson Martínez ahead of Fernando Torres in attack.
However, it was a decision that backfired as the Colombian underwhelmed, getting the hook at half-time for the second week running after again looking like a stranger alongside his new teammates.
Up at the other end, there was another Atleti striker with a point to prove and he did so in style, capitalising on some uncharacteristic defending from the usually dependable pairing of Giménez and Godín.
Back in Spain after an unsuccessful spell in the Premier League, Roberto Soldado opened up space for Léo Baptistão before sliding him in to finish the first sight of goal of the match.
It was a confident finish from the Brazilian, who showed the type of composure we never really saw from him in a red and white shirt. He now has more goals against Atleti than he does for them.
Usually after going a goal down we see an instant response from Simeone’s men, but they just couldn’t get a foothold in the first half and went into the break distinctly second best.
Their only real chance came in stoppage time following a mistake, Griezmann pouncing on Víctor Ruiz’s error of judgement but failing to beat compatriot Alphonse Areola with his effort.
It was the home side who came closest to getting the second goal though, as the lively Samu Castillejo headed narrowly wide of Oblak’s left-hand post after good play on the right from Jonathan dos Santos.
During the interval, Jackson and Gabi were sacrificed for Fernando Torres and Luciano Vietto – not particularly well received at his former club – although they didn’t have the impact that the half-time changes in Ipurúa last week did.
Atleti were better in the second half and limited Villarreal to very little in the final third, but still, Marcelino’s team looked to have the game under control and were never really under any serious threat.
Ángel Correa did make a difference when he came on and had the best two opportunities, and alongside Griezmann looked like the only player likely to unlock the yellow backline.
The two were involed in the visitor’s best play of the match, and after a couple of one-touch passes the ball fell for Correa nicely in the area, but once more Areola was alert and parried away for a corner.
As it were, the game fizzled out in fairly comfortable fashion for the home side, who soaked up the pressure without needing to exert themselves too much or search for the killer goal.
They move top of the table for the time being, and Atleti make the trip home for two crucial games with a lot to think about. Out played and out thought, this wasn’t the performance of a team out to show their title credentials.
On Sunday we have another huge game in the Calderón against Real Madrid, at a stage where we can’t afford to drop any more points or lose ground on direct rivals.
However, Cholo will continue to think game-by-game, and before the derby we play host to Benfica in the Champions League. Let’s just hope Raúl Jiménez wasn’t watching Baptistão tonight…
|26 September 2015|
|Dos Santos (68')|
|Denis Suárez (68')|