Atletico Madrid have reached second place of La Liga after a fourth successive victory in the league, however they had to wait for a 74th minute goal from substitute Fernando Torres to collect three points against Deportivo Alaves at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Diego Simeone made one change to the side that defeated Real Betis 1-0 last weekend, with Antonie Griezmann coming back from a hamstring problem, replacing Angel Correa who dropped to the bench. Abelardo Fernández kept the same starting eleven that defeated Las Palmas 2-0 for the game, playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation with on loan Munir continuing in the sole striker position.
The away side looked more comfortable in the first half, slowing down Atleti’s offence and showing how organised Abelardo has made them since his appointment last month. In the 20th minute, on loan Alfonso Pedraza fired a shot towards Jan Oblak’s bottom corner, however the Slovenian successfully managed to prevent an opening goal.
Los Colchoneros began to show frustration, with Thomas Partey being shown a yellow card for a poor challenge, as well as Stefan Savic being cautioned for dissent after voicing his anger towards referee Manzano after Gabi conceded a free kick. Koke and Kevin Gameiro both had opportunities to score the first goal of the match but the first half ended goalless.
Simeone brought on Correa for Thomas Partey as the second half began, hoping a more attacking threat would break the Alaves defence.
The Argentine made an immediate contribution to the game, feeding the ball to Griezmann, but his shot ended up in the stands. Atleti continued to press, and the introduction of both Fernando Torres and Yannick Carrasco for Saul and Gameiro showed that the home side were desperate for the victory.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 74th minute. The impressive Correa successfully passed the ball out to Sime Vrsaljko, whose cross was met by a sliding Fernando Torres to grab what was to be the only goal of the match. Bojan was brought on for Pina as Alaves tried to grab a point, however Savic and Godin successfully managed to clear any incoming balls, and the match ended 1-0, with the Madrid side taking second spot after Valencia were defeated 2-1 away to Eibar earlier in the day.
Alaves will be hoping to get back to winning ways at home to Malaga this coming Thursday, whereas Atleti will be hoping to continue their unbeaten run on Friday, travelling to Barcelona to face Quique Sanchez Flores’ Espanyol.