Athletico Madrid managed to edge their arc rivals Real Madrid in UEFA Cup. This was a sweet victory for Diego Simeons side who had failed to beat the Los Blancos in previous encounters.
Saul Niguez smashed a volley past Keylor Navas from Thomas Partey’s cross in extra-time to leave Diego Simeone celebrating in the main stand of the Tallin’s tiny national stadium.
He has said in the past that nothing will make up for Atletico losing two Champions League finals against their bitter rivals but this was minor revenge with Real Madrid looking ragged at times, suggesting they have paid the price for not strengthening in the summer after the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sergio Ramos thought he had won the game for Real Madrid in the second half when he sent a second half spot-kick past Jan Oblak in the 63rd minute to make it 2-1 after Juan Fran had handled in the area. Ramos then celebrated in front of incensed Atletico Madrid supporters who pelted him with plastic bottles.
The Ramos goal came after Diego Costa had taken just 49 seconds to score the first goal of the game to give Athletico Madrid the lead.
Stefan Savic launched a long pass forward and Costa beat Ramos to the header. He then ran on to his own flick-on, sprinted past Raphael Varane and from close to the byline thumped his shot past Keylor Navas.
The build-up to this game had been all about the possibility of Thibaut Courtois tormenting his former team but the keeper was not registered in time to play the game and instead it was another Chelsea old-boy doing the damage.
Gareth Bale showed his first flash of brilliance leaving both Saul and Juanfran on their backsides with a flick between the pair of them. The former chopped him down as he raced away but Madrid failed to make the most of the free-kick.
Ramos and Costa continued their sparring and both needed treatment after a clash of heads. This was exactly what Atletico wanted – a battle. With Simeone serving the final match of his European ban, his side-kick Mono Burgos was prowling the technical area haranguing the fourth official at every opportunity.
Luka Modric made an early entrance five minutes into the second half and Madrid improved to get what seemed like the winner but with 10 minutes left Angel Correa crossed from the right and Costa bundled in the leveler.
Madrid almost scored the winner in normal time with the last kick. Bale sprinted clear down the left and it was
Marcelo who kept pace with him. Bale picked out the left back but when Marcelo threw his body at the ball to volley in for the trophy, he failed to make contact and fell in a heap inside the area as the referee blew for full-time.
Ramos’s sloppiness in the first hall of extra time ended up costing the European champions as he lost possession and Party crossed to Saul to give Athletico the lead.
Costa was taken off with five minutes left to huge applause from Atletico’s impressively noisy away support. He had won his duel with Ramos and thanks to Saul’s magic Atletico had beaten their local rivals.
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Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Associate at the Uganda Child Cancer Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!