Sunday, 20 February 2011
Match Report: Real Zaragoza 0 Atlético Madrid 1
Real Zaragoza 0 - Atlético Madrid 1 (Aguero 65)
If last weekend’s defeat to Valencia was supposed to be the final nail in the coffin for Quique Sanchez Flores then this was his and his side’s resurrection as Atelti ended a run of four straight defeats with a 1-0 win at Real Zaragoza.
Kun Aguero got the only goal of the game but will also have caused concern for his under fire coach when limping off five minutes from time. But the biggest surprise, away from the result, was that there was only one goal and not more injuries in what was a fiercely contested and entertaining match.
The classic game of two halves saw the visitors control the opening period. The home side’s physical pressing game was enough at times to unsettle Atleti’s technically gifted players – youngster Koke given a starting role ahead of new signing Elias on the left, Reyes on the right with Aguero and forlan up front – but when they got the ball La Real did little with it in the forward areas.
As the half wore on Atelti’s dominance of possession began to pay. Yet, the last thing Atleti fans needed, or more to the point expected, was a solid display from Leo Franco in the Zaragoza goal. Twice the Argentine goalkeeper denied Aguero before home captain Gabi made a fantastic goal line clearance from Thiago.
Ironically it was to be in the second-half – when the home side were much more in control – that Atleti’s winner should arrive. Indeed it came straight from a Zaragoza attack as after a scramble in the Atleti box they ball found its way to Aguero who showed Ponzio a clear pair of heels and fired impressively across Franco and into the net.
Zaragoza had posed much more of a threat in the second period. Coach, Javier Aguirre, had replaced old Atletico ‘favourite’ Florent Sinima Sin-Gol…sorry Pongolle with the lively Nicolas Bertolo who gave Thomas Ujfalusi a torrid time down the Zaragoza left.
However, after the goal with the visitors much happier to sit in and wait for another counter-attack the home side found it difficult to make their possession count until the final two minutes when they came desperately close to an equaliser.
Firstly, Ikechukwu Uche nearly marked his return from a seven month injury lay-off with a goal – his shot rattling the bar. And moments later Bertolo replicated the Nigerian’s effort as his shot clipped the woodwork on the way over.
But there was to be, for once, a feeling of blessed relief for Quique and the Atelti fans who are now back in the race for a Europa League spot only four points off Espanyol in sixth. Zaragoza’s first home defeat in 2011 leaves them just a point above the drop-zone.