Atletico Madrid 0-2 Espanyol: Managerless visitors stun poor Atleti

Atletico Madrid 0-2 Espanyol: Managerless visitors stun poor Atleti

May 6, 2018 Off By Ben MacDonald

Following their progression to the Europa League final, Atletico Madrid suffered a first home defeat in the league against Espanyol, with their grip on second place continuing to loosen.

Diego Simeone made four changes to the side that defeated Arsenal 1-0 in the Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday, with Sime Vrsaljko and Felipe Luis returning to the starting line-up following their respective suspension and injury. Kevin Gameiro and Fernando Torres started the match up front, with Diego Godin, Saul, Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann all retiring to the bench.

Interim coach David Gallego made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 at home to Las Palmas last weekend, with Naldo, Carlos Sanchez and Leo Baptistao replacing Mario Hermoso, Esteban Granero and Sergio Garcia.

It was the visitors who applied the most pressure in the early stages of the first half, keeping the hosts in their own half. Atleti finally grabbed a couple of opportunities with Gameiro shooting wide and Lucas seeing a shot deflect away from the goal. Gerard Moreno had the opportunity to grab the opener after passing two defenders, however his shot was parried away by Oblak.

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As well as replacing an injured Vitolo in the first half, Diego Simeone brought Saul on for Koke at the start of the second half to add a more attacking threat from the home midfield, and the move nearly proved effective when the replacement fired a volley towards goal, only for Pau Lopez’s quick reactions keeping the score line even.

A fast break began for the visitors with the ball finding Oscar Melendo, whose shot took a heavy reflection off Stefan Savic’s head, beating Oblak for the first away goal scored at the Wanda Metropolitano in 13 games.

Fourteen minutes later and the Periquitos wrapped up the three points. Melendo found Leo Baptistao at the edge of the box, taking a touch and firing a shot to Oblak’s bottom left corner to make it 2-0.

Atleti remain in second place, four points ahead of neighbours Real who have two games in hand. Simeone’s men head to other Madrid side, Getafe next Saturday.

Espanyol sit in 15th position, even on points with Athletic Bilbao, and welcome bottom side Malaga to the RCDE Stadium next Sunday.

Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Savic, Giminez, Lucas; Thomas, Vrsaljko, Vitolo (Arona, 26), Koke (Saul, 45), Felipe Luis (Gabi, 65), Gameiro, Torres

Espanyol: Lopez; Rios, David Lopez, Naldo, Didac Vila; V. Sanchez, Darder (Roca, 73), C. Sanchez, Melendo (Sergio Garcia, 78); Gerard (Jurado, 83), Baptistao