Atletico Madrid closed the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to two points, for a day at least, as two first half goals saw them ease passed sixth placed Getafe CF on Saturday.
Diego Simeone’s side dominated the early exchanges but were let down on a few occasions by their final ball, failing to register any meaningful opportunities in the opening period of the game. Individual battles were evident all over the pitch, with no less than eight fouls in the first 20 minutes.
However, with their first shot on target, Atletico led on 27 minutes. Thomas Partey threaded a neat through ball in for Antoine Griezmann, who beat the offside trap before smashing a left footed finish inside David Soria’s near post.
Their second shot on target produced their second goal ten minutes later, as Lucas Hernandez’s cross across the box fell to Nikola Kalinic, whose shot was blocked only for Saul Niguez to tap the rebound into an empty net.
The second half saw Getafe come out with more endeavour, as they risked more bodies in attack, searching for a route back into the match. The ineffective Kalinic was replaced on 62 minutes by 18-year-old Victor Mollejo, who hit a wonderful curling effort just over the bar immediately after his introduction.
The away side huffed and puffed but were unable to break down a resilient Atletico side, their misery compounded in the 88th minute as Djene was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence – before Leandro Cabrera was sent for a marginally early shower in injury time.
KEY TALKING POINT
Despite a whole host of injuries plaguing Simeone’s side, Atletico were largely untroubled throughout the 90 minutes without being at their fluid best. The rumoured arrival of Alvaro Morata has thrown the future of striker Kalinic in doubt, and the Croatian failed to add to his tally of four goals since his arrival last August.
While there are talks of players entering the fold at the Wanda Metropolitano, someone apparently on the way out is Uruguayan Diego Godin. The defender will move to Inter in the summer and could only manage 45 minutes with a presumed injury, but how Los Rojiblancos go about replacing the club legend will be an uphill task come the season’s end.
Starting XI: Oblak (7); Arias (7), Gimenez (7), Godin (6), Hernandez (7), Niguez (7), Thomas (8*), Rodri (7), Lemar (7), Griezmann (8), Kalinic (6).
Substitutes: Juanfran (7); Mollejo (7).
Star Man – Thomas Partey
Thomas was involved in everything good that Atletico produced on Saturday, industrious in midfield and with an eye for a good pass, he is surely one of the more underrated players in La Liga. Having been involved in the set up at Atletico since 2011, he is very much another fine example of the excellent youth academy Simeone has at his disposal.
Worst Player – Nikola Kalinic
The Croatian had an opportunity on Saturday to show his manager there is no need to sign Morata this window, but he failed to provide any reason to tempt Simeone otherwise. He was hooked off after 62 minutes for 18-year-old Mollejo, who showed more purpose in half an hour than the 31-year-old showed in an hour.
The striker only joined the club last summer but has been limited to just 18 appearances in all competitions. With Diego Costa due back from injury, it appears his days are numbered in Madrid.
Atletico are back in La Liga action as they travel to Seville to play Real Betis at the Estadio Benito Villamarín, before returning to the Wanda Metropolitano to host Real Madrid in the derby.
Meanwhile Getafe will head to Valencia to play the second leg of their Copa Del Rey quarter final, having won the first leg 1-0.