MX23RW : Saturday, October 16 15:49:07| >> :120:4151:4151:
Oct 25, 2015 at 7.30pm UK at Vicente Calderon Stadium
AtleticoAtletico Madrid
FT(HT: 2-0)
Alcacer (72' pen.)

Match Analysis: Atletico Madrid 2-1 Valencia

Sports Mole dissects the 90 minutes of action as Atletico Madrid record a 2-1 win over Valencia in Sunday's La Liga clash in Madrid.

Atletico Madrid moved into third spot in the La Liga table with a 2-1 win over Valencia on Sunday evening.

First-half goals from Jackson Martinez and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco looked to be sending Atletico on their way to a comfortable three points in the Spanish capital.

However, a 72nd-minute penalty from Paco Alcacer after Diego Godin had brought Shkodran Mustafi to the ground handed the away side hope of an unlikely point.

Atletico managed to repel the late pressure, however, to move just two points behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, who sit first and second respectively on 21 points.

Here, Sports Mole has dissected the 90 minutes of action at the Vicente Calderon.

Match statistics

Shots: 16
On target: 8
Possession: 51%
Corners: 9
Fouls: 26

Shots: 6
On target: 1
Possession: 49%
Corners: 2
Fouls: 10

Was the result fair?

One look at the scoreline would suggest that it was a close match between two well-matched teams and while that was the case for the final 25 minutes or so, Atletico did enough in the first period to deserve to claim all the points. The statistics show that Valencia actually only registered one shot on target, which was their goal, but that is a little unfair on the visitors, who had a number of good moments throughout the match. Both teams had opportunities in what was a full-blooded opening 20, 25 minutes, but Atletico ultimately won the match with a strong eight-minute spell at the end of the first half.

Martinez showed nerves of steel to open the scoring in the 32nd minute, before Carrasco added a second five minutes before the break. During that spell, the hosts could well have scored three or four times, but some excellent work from Valencia goalkeeper Jaume Domenech kept the score down. Alcacer's spot kick 15 minutes from time set up a grandstand finish, but despite applying late pressure, it is difficult to say that Atletico were hanging on for all three points. When taking into account everything that occurred in the Spanish capital, in terms of fairness at least, the correct team were victorious on the night.

Atletico's performance

Following on from their Champions League exploits against Astana, head coach Diego Simeone named arguably his strongest side for this match, with the likes of Filipe Luis, Koke and Jose Gimenez all returning to the XI. It was the same front three, however, with Martinez and Carrasco joining Antoine Griezmann. Both teams had chances to open the scoring in the early exchanges in Madrid, with an effort from Koke bringing a decent stop from Domenech. Gimenez was next to come close for Atletico in the 25th minute, but after finding space inside the box, the centre-back could only head over the crossbar.

The hosts were ahead in the 32nd minute, however, when Martinez took advantage of some poor defending from Valencia to slide one into the bottom corner. Martinez and Godin both came close in the minutes that followed, but the second eventually arrived from Carrasco, who found the back of the net from outside the box. At that point, and indeed in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, Atletico looked to be cruising to all three points. Griezmann might well have put the game beyond Valencia in the 68th minute after excellent work from Carrasco, but the Frenchman fired wide of the post from close range.

An uncharacteristic mistake from Godin handed Valencia a lifeline, however, with the centre-back bundling into Mustafi, who was more than happy to hit the ground. Alcacer stepped forward to make it an uncomfortable end to the match, but Atletico also had chances to add to the scoring in the latter stages, with Fernando Torres and Juanfran both coming close. It was a game that did not need to be as close as it was for Atletico, but they managed to secure all the points. The Simeone machine is not quite in full flow thus far in the new campaign, but as it stands, they are only two points off the top of the table.

Valencia's performance

Like Atletico, Valencia were also in Champions League action during the week and also like Atletico, there were changes to the Los Che XI. Santi Mina kept his spot in attack, but there were recalls for Rodrigo and Enzo Perez, while Alcacer dropped to the bench for the former Spanish champions. It was the visitors that had the first sight of goal in Madrid, but Mustafi just failed to meet a flicked header from Rodrigo, before Rodrigo set up Joao Cancelo, who could only drill a low cross into the arms of Jan Oblak. Atletico were in control of the early exchanges, but Nuno's side looked fairly comfortable at the back.

A terrible piece of defending contributed to Atletico opening the scoring, with both Mustafi and Aderlan Santos failing to clear their lines, which allowed Martinez time and space to finish. Domenech kept the score at 1-0 with some super stops in the period that followed, but when Carrasco found the bottom corner in the 40th minute, it was a long way back for Valencia, who looked short of energy in all of the vital areas. That was a pattern that continued in the second half as Atletico controlled the tempo without really threatening, but a lifeline from Godin allowed Alcacer to make it 2-1 from the penalty spot.

The likes of Pablo Piatti and Zakaria Bakkali were thrown on in a bid to secure an unlikely point in Madrid, but Oblak was not overly worked in the Atletico goal, while the hosts also had chances of their own down the other end. There were some positives on display for Valencia, but it was not really a game that they ever had under control. While Los Che's overall display was far from poor, they have now only won three of their nine league matches this season and are currently six points off the top four.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco: Atletico's summer signing from AS Monaco stole the show this evening. It was the Belgian attacker that scored the home side's second late in the first period after he drilled one into the bottom corner from outside the box. Valencia continued to struggle against the 22-year-old in the second half and the visitors will have been pleased when he was replaced for the final 20 minutes.

Biggest gaffe

Godin's decision to push Mustafi to the ground in the penalty box is an incident that stands out for obvious reasons, but it was not as bad a mistake as Valencia's defending for Atletico's first goal. Mustafi and Santos had opportunities to clear their lines, but the two centre-backs both mis-kicked the ball, which allowed Martinez to nip in and score. Santos was perhaps most at fault, but Mustafi should also have done better.

Referee performance

Despite it being a busy 90 minutes for referee Jesus Gil, the Spaniard did not have to make too many difficult decisions. He was correct to award Valencia a penalty when Godin bundled into the back of Mustafi, while the majority of the yellow cards issued were fairly routine calls. It was a match that needed a referee who was prepared to let the game flow when possible and Gil, who dished out eight bookings in total, was certainly sensitive to the occasion.

What next?

Atletico: Next up for Atletico in the league is a trip to Deportivo La Coruna next Friday.

Valencia: Los Che, meanwhile, will host Levante next Saturday evening.

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Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone gestures during the Champions League quarter final match against Barcelona on April 9, 2014
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