Here, Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action between the two Spanish rivals.
On target: 9
On target: 1
Was the result fair?
It was not the prettiest of matches at times, but Atletico did what was asked of them this afternoon. Espanyol had spells in which they attempted to cause problems, but they simply did not create enough clear opportunities to deserve to take something from the match. The home side had to be patient, but their first goal, which arrived just before the break, proved crucial. Even at 1-0, Espanyol did not really threaten to equalise and it was not much of a surprise when a second arrived for the champions 20 minutes from time. Overall, it was a deserved three points for the hosts.
Atletico have still not found their best form this season, but it was the three points and not the performance that were vital this afternoon. Before the international break, Diego Simeone's side were beaten 3-1 at Valencia and question marks had been raised over whether they could challenge for the title this season. Simeone called for a response in this match, and he got one. As touched upon above, it was not the best spectacle, but Atletico were always in control of the match. They were guilty of playing too direct at times, but both of their goals came from mix-ups inside the Espanyol box. It was the type of match in which they needed to score the first goal in order to zap the away side's confidence and lift the supporters. The capital outfit are still not at the level that they were last season, but it was vital that they stayed in touch with leaders Barcelona at this stage of the campaign.
Espanyol gave a decent account of themselves, with the visitors carrying a threat on the counter and frustrating Atletico for long spells of the first period. However, the fact that they managed just one attempt on target is an indication of their struggles. Sergio Garcia was always the most likely to make something happen, but when the skipper went off injured, his team struggled for invention. Felipe Caicedo was deployed as the lone forward, but the former Manchester City striker did not have enough of the ball to make his mark. There were some positives, with Diego Colotto and Lucas Vasquez both impressing, but they never really offered the impression that they were capable of taking something from the match.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Diego Godin: On his day, there are few better centre-backs in world football and Godin was at his very best this afternoon. The visitors had no change from the Uruguay international, who was strong in the air and classy in possession of the ball. He was without normal partner Miranda, but he guided young centre-back Jose Gimenez, who was also terrific, through the 90 minutes.
Espanyol skipper Garcia had a brilliant chance to level in the latter stages of the first period after breaking through on goal, but his effort was high and wide of the crossbar. The visitors did not create too many opportunities in Madrid, but they were wasteful with those that did arrive.
Incredibly, referee Inaki Bikandi did not issue a single yellow card this afternoon, which is a rare occurrence in La Liga. The 28-year-old, who was taking charge of just his fourth top-flight match, was always on hand to calm proceedings when necessary and was more than prepared to let the play flow in the correct areas. Overall, it was a positive afternoon for the official.
Atletico: The Spanish champions are in Champions League action at home to Swedish outfit Malmo on Wednesday, before returning to league action away to Getafe next Sunday evening.
Espanyol: Espanyol will attempt to continue their positive start to the season when they host struggling Deportivo La Coruna next Sunday.