Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao: Hosts continue unbeaten start to 2018February 18, 2018
Following on from their European adventures during the week, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao met at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday with both sides looking to pick up what would be three valuable points at this stage of the competition.
Diego Simeone made four changes to the side that started in the 4-1 win against FC Copenhagen on Thursday, with Jan Oblak, Sime Vrsaljko, Felipe Luis and Diego Costa taking to the field, replacing Moya, Juanfran, Diego Godin and Kevin Gameiro.
With Artiz Arduiz and Raul Garcia both suspended for the clash, as well as Iker Muniain and Mikel Balenziaga still injured, José Ángel Ziganda made wholesale changes to the side that pulled off a 3-1 win away to Spartak Moscow. Inaki Williams was the sole striker in a 4-5-1 for the away side.
Neither keeper was seriously tested in an open first half in the capital. The home side did look the most threatening in the first 20 minutes, with Koke and Jose Gimenez both seeing opportunities go wide.
There were calls for a penalty in the 21st minute when Diego Costa was brought down in the box, however referee José Luis González González waved away protests. There were further appeals for a spot kick in the 42nd minute, when Gimenez was clearly pushed during a corner, as well as Felipe Luis going to the ground, but the referee yet again refused to award a penalty.
Just before the half-time whistle, Inaki Williams saw his overhead kick from a corner go wide of Jan Oblak’s goal, and both sides retired to the dressing rooms failing to score.
Former Chelsea striker Costa had a couple of chances to open the scoring in the early stages of the second half, volleying straight at Kepa and heading over the bar.
Kevin Gameiro, on for Koke to provide a more attacking threat, opened the scoring for the side. A quick free kick from Saul was met by Angel Correa, who gave the ball back to his partner in midfield; Saul then found Griezmann who passed the ball wide to his compatriot whose shot found Kepa’s far corner to make it 1-0.
It was all Atleti from there and after chances from Thomas and Godin went over the bar, Los Colchoneros secured the win when a long ball from Gameiro found a wide open Diego Costa, who coolly slotted the ball past Kepa to make it 2-0.
Following the victory, Atleti maintain their nine-point advantage over Valencia in second place, however are trailing leaders, Barcelona by seven points.
Athletic sit in 14th place on 28 points, and will be hoping that a win against struggling Malaga at San Mamés next Sunday will put an end to their current run of bad form.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Vrsaljko, Giminez, Hernandez (Godin, 45), Felipe Luis; Correa (Gabi, 70), Saul, Thomas, Koke (Gameiro, 59); Griezmann, Diego Costa
Athletic Bilbao: Kepa; Inigo Lekue, Nunez, Inigo Martinez, Enric Saborit; San Jose, Mikel Vesga (Cordoba, 72), Susaeta, Benat (Iturraspe, 65), Sabin (de Marcos, 69); Williams