A second half penalty from Kevin Gameiro was all it took for Atletico Madrid to secure three points against Deportivo Alaves at the Mendizorrotza Stadium this afternoon.
Today’s hosts have had a decent run of form recently, collecting 10 points from the last 15 available. A 4-0 win away to Las Palmas last weekend confirmed La Liga status for the side from the Basque country next season.
The match sat in between two Europa League semi-final legs for Atleti, who left London on Thursday evening arguably with the upper hand on Arsenal following Antoine Griezmann’s 81st minute equaliser at the Emirates Stadium. A win in today’s match meant that there was still a slim chance that Los Colchoneros could become league champions, should Deportivo beat Barcelona in the late kick off at the Riazor.
Abelardo Fernández made six changes to the side that won comfortably in Gran Canaria last week, with the suspended Rodrigo Ely, Fernando Pacheco, Martín Aguirregabiria, Ruben Duarte, Ibai Gomez and Manuel Garcia Sanchez being replaced by Antonio Sivera, Victor Laguardia, Guillermo Maripan, Adrian Dieguez, Alfonso Pedraza and John Guidetti.
With European glory the main focus, Diego Simeone chose to leave Jan Oblak, Antoine Griezmann, Saul and Jose Gimenez out of the squad list for the game. Axel Werner made his first league start for the side, with Diego Costa returning to the starting 11 since a muscle injury. Vitolo and Fernando Torres also made rare starts for the visitors.
Alaves looked to be the side who were wanting the victory more in the first half and could have had a penalty after Lucas brought down Munir in the box following his failure to control a loose ball, however referee David Fernandez Borbalan decided there was no wrongdoing. Diego Costa could have grabbed the opener late in the first half; however debutant Sivera successfully collected the shot.
The second half continued to be a quiet affair until the 71st minute when a clumsy tackle on Vitolo by Wakaso resulted in a penalty for Atleti. Fernando Torres stepped up to take the spot kick; however substitute keeper Pacheco successfully saved the shot. Seven minutes later and Alaves conceded yet another penalty. A half volley from Torres bounced off Wakaso’s hand and Gameiro successfully converted the penalty. The match ended on a sour note for the away side, with Angel Correa sent off after arguing with the referee following a booking over a bad tackle.
The result leaves Alaves in 13th place, a point above Athletic Bilbao. They travel to bottom side Malaga in next Sunday’s early kick off.
After hosting Arsenal at the Wanda Metropolitano, Atleti welcome Espanyol to the capital on Sunday afternoon.
Alaves: Sivera (Pacheco, 63); Alexis, Laguardia, Maripan, Dieguez; Sobrino, Pina, Wakaso (Garcia Sanchez, 79), Pedraza; Guidetti (Gomez, 72), Munir
Atletico Madrid: Werner; Thomas, Savic, Lucas, Vrsaljko; Correa, Gabi, Koke (Godin, 62), Vitolo; Torres, D. Costa (Gameiro, 63)