Atletico Madrid 2-1 Real Zaragoza: Colchoneros Edge To Crucial Victory To Relieve Pressure On Resino
Atletico Madrid edged out their first league victory of the season against a spirited Real Zaragoza side, but they will be grateful to some excellent goalkeeping from 18-year-old David De Gea. Jose Manuel Jurado put them into an early lead, which appeared to be safe when Antonio Lopez scored from a free kick. Ewerthon’s penalty restored hope for the visitors, but Atleti closed out a vital victory.
As expected, young De Gea started in goal for the hosts, while Antonio Lopez returned at left back. Luis Perea moved to centre back in place of Pablo. Los Blanquillos were unchanged from their 3-0 victory against Getafe last weekend.
Los Colchoneros raced into the lead after just two minutes – Diego Forlan’s low ball into the area broke to Jose Manuel Jurado, who side-footed into the bottom left hand corner.
The visitors attempted to rally after the goal, committing men forward, but Atleti were defending adequately and always looked threatening when they ventured forward in the early stages.
Matters should have been levelled when De Gea rashly brought down Jorge Lopez in the penalty area, earning him a yellow card. However, Marko Babic’s spot kick was well saved by the ‘keeper down to his left.
Cleber Santana was then booked for a late tackle in the 22nd minute as los Rojiblancos demonstrated their physical approach, but they were giving away a number of free kicks in dangerous positions in their own half.
The visitors’ set pieces were disappointing for the most part, but Abel Aguilar then hit the post from a corner in the 25th minute as De Gea hesitated in his goal.
Roberto Ayala very nearly headed into his own net after half an hour as he looked to intercept Diego Forlan’s cross, but his defensive clearance went just wide of Juan Pablo Carrizo’s right hand post.
Javier Arizmendi flashed a shot wide from 20 yards in the 35th minute amid some slack defending from the hosts. Babic was forced off with an injury shortly thereafter, which brought Angel Lafita into the fray for his debut.
With just over five minutes remaining in the first half, Forlan curled a long-range shot just wide of the post, but it was the visitors that were in the ascendancy as the half drew to a close.
Lopez wasted a good opportunity just before half time as he picked up the ball on the byline as the ball broke loose from a corner, but instead of crossing for his team-mates the 31-year-old chose to shoot from a near-impossible angle.
Los Blanquillos should have pulled level in the 50th minute, but former Real Madrid defender Francisco Pavon headed wide as he headed unchallenged at a corner.
Sergio Aguero, hitherto anonymous, danced past a number of challenges before winning a free kick right on the edge of the box in the 64th minute. It was a chance for the mattress makers to give themselves a cushion, and they did just that. Antonio Lopez fired in a low, hard free kick into the bottom right hand corner, and the relief around the stadium was tangible.
Minutes later, Tomas Ujfalusi brought down Arizmendi in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot for the second time in the match. This time the substitute Ewerthon sent De Gea the wrong way to half the deficit, although Atleti will feel aggrieved as Ujfalusi appeared to win the ball.
Meanwhile, Jose Antonio Reyes had been brought on for Aguero and instantly started to create problems as he ran at the Zaragoza defence. While the visitors were still pressing forward and threatening to score the equaliser, Marcelino will be disappointed with the infrequency with which his side tested the young De Gea.
The hosts were beginning to sit back as the game entered its final stages, with substitute Jermaine Pennant particularly prominent down the right hand side for Zaragoza. In the 85th minute, Ewerthon was adjudged to have been brought down on the edge of the area by Perea, although the Brazilian went to ground very easily.
De Gea made an excellent save from the resulting free kick by Jorge Lopez, and moments later the hosts should have wrapped the game up on the counter attack when Maxi Rodriguez missed the target from close range.
Carrizo pulled off a great save from a swerving Santana shot in stoppage time, but the hosts comfortably played out injury time. There was euphoria mixed with relief at the Vicente Calderon as the final whistle went, and los Colchoneros will be praying that this is a turning point in their season.