By 90Min
December 22, 2018

Atlético Madrid moved into second place in La Liga after defeating Espanyol 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano, in what was their final match of the calendar year.


Antoine Griezmann converted a 56th minute penalty to open the scoring for Diego Simeone's men, who held on to move level on points with league leaders Barcelona.


ATLÉTICO MADRID


Key Talking Point


The hosts started on the front foot, using the pace and width of Saúl, who was playing at left-back. However, for all their early dominance, they couldn't muster any clear-cut opportunities, with Griezmann restricted to efforts at goal from tight-angles.

At the opposite end, they were fortunate not to have been caught out by their opponents, who looked a threat on the break. Jan Oblak produced goalkeeping heroics on more than one occasion after weak defending from the usually solid Stefan Savić and Diego Godín.

Atléti improved in the second period and committed men forward, which ultimately took a toll on the visitors, who conceded a penalty, which Griezmann converted to give Los Colchoneros the win.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Oblak (6); Arias (5), Savić (5), Godín (5), Saúl (5); Correa (5), Partey (6), Rodri (5), Koke (6); Kalinić (5), Griezmann (7*).


Substitutes: Montero (N/A), Vitolo (N/A), Martins (5).


STAR MAN - Griezmann wasn't at his best, but he performed well. He dropped deep to receive the ball and linked up well with his teammates. He was positive in possession, looking up to find his strike-partner, who unfortunately wasn't on the same wave-length. He forced López into some fine saves and made no mistake from the penalty-spot.

Soccrates Images/GettyImages

WORST PLAYER - Nikola Kalinić was fairly anonymous throughout for Los Rojiblancos. He didn't see much of the ball (making just 12 touches in the game) and didn't link-up with teammates. He didn't seem interested in making any runs into the area and was replaced after the hour mark.


ESPANYOL


Key Talking Point


The visitors struggled to see much of the ball initially and even when they did, possession was conceded immediately, as a result of their opponents pressing them high up the pitch.

However, they grew into the game after the first 10 minutes and enjoyed the lion's share of possession. They flurried forward with Léo Baptistão and Borja Iglesias foiled a few times by Oblak, who single-handedly prevented Los Blanquiazules from taking the lead.

Espanyol had looked relatively comfortable against Atléti, but a rash challenge from Esteban Granero resulted in a penalty - undoing all the good work that had gone before.


Starting XI: López (6); Rosales (5), Duarte (6), Naldo (5), Vilà (5); Baptistão (6), López (5), Darder (5), Granero (5); Iglesias (6*), García (5).


Substitutes: Pedrosa (N/A), Melendo (N/A), Pablo Piatti (5).


STAR MAN  

Borja Iglesias did well for the visitors, making good runs off the ball and driving forward where possible. He took players on and showed neat improvisation on a few occasions. He drew a fine save from Oblak with a terrific lobbed-effort and then was denied by the keeper when through on-goal, after beating his man. He did well against one of the best defences in Europe, but was just unable to find the net.

OSCAR DEL POZO/GettyImages

WORST PLAYER 

Esteban Granero's reckless challenge dampened a great overall performance from his side. He showed some nice moments in the first-half and went close with a dipping-effort, but his decision to over-commit to a challenge on Koke in the area, proved costly. He also picked up a booking, ruling him out of Espanyol's next match.


Looking Ahead


Los Rojiblancos travel to third-placed Sevilla after the Christmas period, hoping to extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Espanyol host 16th-placed Leganés, hoping to end their six-match losing streak in the league.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)