Atletico Madrid down Villarreal at the death to return to top four against form side in La Liga

Villarreal 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Villarreal came into this one the form side in La Liga with five victories on the bounce, as Atletico Madrid tried to address their dreadful away record – and overtake Athletic Club in fourth place. Marcelino Garcia Toral set up his side with four central defenders and three central forwards, and as such, it turned into a back and forth game from the start, with Samuel Lino starting as a central midfielder for Diego Simeone.

That almost paid off immediately, with Antoine Griezmann finding Lino in behind, but he couldn’t beat Filip Jorgensen. Axel Witsel could, flicking a header at the near post into the far corner, but Villarreal came back into it after conceding less than 10 minutes in. The Yellow Submarine created two shots for Gerard Moreno, one cleared by Witsel off the line, and Yerson Mosquera having a penalty shout turned down.

Simeone was not content in spite of his lead, taking Rodrigo Riquelme and Koke Resurreccion withdrawn for Stefan Savic, shifting Axel Witsel into the middle and Lino back to his more familiar left. It didn’t pay off early, with Griezmann giving the ball away in his own third. Moved quickly, Moreno found Alexander Sorloth on the edge of the box, who controlled, fired, and scored with his first shot of the game to level just over five minutes into the second half.

The second half saw less of a chaotic pattern of play, although Alvaro Morata did get in behind on a couple of occasions, but couldn’t beat Jorgensen. Meanwhile Villarreal struggled to get clear chances after some nice approach play, but with five minutes to go, as Dani Parejo failed to convert a pull back.

The sting in the tail was that Saul Niguez could convert Cesar Azpilicueta’s lay off on the edge of the box. Slotting home with his left foot for his first goal of the season, it was an invaluable one for Los Colchoneros. Simeone managed to make it work with his changes despite Villarreal having the better of them for spells of the second half.

It allows Los Rojiblancos to take full advantage of Athletic’s defeat to Real Madrid, and jump back into the top four, two points ahead of the Basques. The Yellow Submarine remain 10th, four points of Real Betis in 7th, and a European place should Athletic win the Copa del Rey final next weekend.

Tags Atletico Madrid Villarreal
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