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Atlético lose three golden points to Espanyol in a highly contested match (2-3)

A beautiful goal from Osvaldo gives the ‘pericos’ the win

Atlético de Madrid were unable to earn three very important points for their European goals against Espanyol in a match in which the ‘rojiblancos’ fought back twice and ended with nerves spilling out onto the field. The goals from Tiago and Kun Agüero weren’t enough to give the home side the victory.

Atlético de Madrid took on Espanyol from Barcelona in a match in which both teams needed the three points to be in Champions spots in the table. The ‘rojiblancos’ wanted to be strong in their stadium and took the pitch with the clear intention of not giving anything away. The game began with intensity and chances for both teams, as they both came out with speed and desire. Verdú and Kun Agüero were the first to test their luck on the goals defended by Kameni and De Gea. There was plenty of imprecision in the opening minutes, which led to many open spaces on the pitch, and undoubtedly to greater excitement for the fans who attended Estadio Vicente Calderón in spite of the cold.

Atlético began to attack Kameni’s goal with more intention. Filipe Luis sent through a pass to the far post that was finally cleared away by Didac, although the rebound fell to Agüero and Callejón committed a foul on which Atleti was unable to capitalize. Things became complicated for Quique Sánchez Flores’ lads in minute 20 of the match. The referee called a very strict handball on Reyes in the area off a free kick taken by Callejón. The ensuing spot kick was blasted home by Luis García.

Down 0-1, Atlético de Madrid began to see things differently. Their spirits dampened and there were constant fouls from both squads. The ‘colchoneros’ wanted and needed an equalizer. Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi made a nice run down the right flank and his cross was sent wide by Portuguese winger Simão. Quique’s team tried to settle in on the pitch and lend calm to the encounter, as it was getting a bit crazy, which didn’t benefit the Madrid side.

At the Calderón, Pochettino’s squad showed the solidity that has carried them to the top spots in the table. Verdú and Callejón were giving the ‘rojiblanco’ defence plenty of work. The fact is that against the Catalan squad, Atlético was facing a high-level test. Simão was ever so close to grabbing the equaliser. The Portuguese winger had an open shot from close range after a pass from Ujfalusi from the right, but the ball sailed high.

In the final minutes of the first half, Atlético played with greater intensity and their play slowly brought them closer to the opposing goal. Argentine Kun Agüero tried his luck two minutes before the break with a shot with the inside of his foot, but the ball ended in Kameni’s hands. Quique’s men got their reward in stoppage time. Tiago was the player in charge of leveling after his initial header off a corner kick was parried away by Kameni. Godín’s follow-up shot was also saved, but Tiago finished off the second rebound. The Portuguese central midfielder scored when the Catalans thought they were headed into the half with a lead. It was undoubtedly a tough psychological blow for the visitors.

The second half began with new intentions. Both Atlético and Espanyol came out of the tunnel with even more fire, if possible. It was a different game, a demanding and physical tough encounter. Neither of the two sides was able to take a breath. Atlético de Madrid wanted to strike first, but it was Espanyol that struck harder. Osvaldo won a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge against Perea and shot on De Gea’s goal, but the goalkeeper was unable to wrap up the shot and the rebound fell to Verdú, who gave his team the lead for the second time in the match.

Quique’s lads knew that getting a win wasn’t going to be easy, but the game was getting tougher and tougher. Espanyol, with the three points in their pocket, were playing with confidence and self-assurance. The home side looked for another comeback, but were lacking connection between the lines. But just at the right moment, the magic appeared from Argentine Kun Agüero. The Atleti ‘10’ left the public at the Calderón amazed with perfect control and finishing to tie the match at two-all. In this case, the Forlán-Kun connection worked perfectly. The Uruguayan sent through a nice long ball towards the Argentine, and Kun beat Kamenia masterfully.

The match picked up pace after the draw, and it was impossible to see a more exciting game. It was a clash with two teams fighting for the same objectives. Goals and emotion were everywhere at the Calderón. But Espanyol was the team to take advantage of a lapse by the ‘rojiblanco’ defense. Osvaldo tallied the third for his club by volleying in a precious shot without letting the ball hit the ground after a measured pass from Luis García. With ten minutes left to go, nerves took over the Atlético bench.

There was lots of imprecision from that moment until the final whistle. The ‘rojiblancos’ pushed forward hard, but the visitors were very well-placed on the pitch and in the end the three points headed back to Barcelona.

ATLÉTICO DE MADRID, 2 (Tiago and Kun Agüero); ESPANYOL, 3 (Luis García, penalty, Verdú and Osvaldo).

Atlético de Madrid: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Godín, Filipe Luis; Mario Suárez, Tiago (Raúl García, 67’), Simão (Mérida, 82’), Reyes; Kun Agüero and Forlán.

Espanyol: Kameni; Javi López, Amat, Forlín, Didac; Baena, Javi Márquez, Luis García, Callejón (Datolo, 59’); Verdú (Sergio García, 74’) and Osvaldo (Raúl Rodríguez, 92’).

Referee: Teixeira Vitienes. Showed yellow cards to Reyes (20’), Simão (43’) and (Tiago, 47’); for Espanyol booked J.López (23’), Baena (25’), Amat (38’), Verdú (45’), Kameni (66’) and Forlín (86’). The referee sent off Quique Sánchez Flores (94’)

Incidents: Estadio Vicente Calderón. Matchday 13 of the First Division Liga BBVA.

Goals:
0-1
(21’). Luis García gives Espanyol the lead with a penalty kick called for a possible handball on Reyes.
1-1 (45’). Tiago fires home from point-blank range to draw level.
1-2 (54’). Verdú scores the second for Espanyol after a rebound from De Gea.
2-2 (65’). Kun Agüero beats Kameni after a through ball from Forlán.
2-3 (77’). Osvaldo gives Espanyol the lead after a fine pass from Luis García.
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