Atletico Madrid got back to winning ways in La Liga as Diego Simeone’s side edged out Valencia 1-0 in an entertaining contest at Mestalla.
Prior to the game kicking off, Valencia announced the signing of Edinson Cavani on a two-year deal, and the striker was in the stands to see his new side in action for the first time.
Alvaro Morata almost got Atletico Madrid off to the perfect start within four minutes, but his long-range effort which found the top corner was ruled out for offside.
That early warning sparked Valencia into life, and the home team were comfortably the better side in the first half. Their pressure eventually turned into what they thought was an opening goal, but Yunus Musah’s powerful long-range strike into the bottom corner in the 23rd minute was disallowed by VAR after a foul in the build-up.
Match official Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez was called into action again late on in the first half as he initially decided to send off Thierry Correia for denying Morata a clear goal-scoring opportunity. However, after viewing the incident again on the pitchside monitor, he overturned his decision and brandished a yellow card to the Valencia right-back instead.
Then, just minutes after being introduced as a substitute, Antoine Griezmann put his side into the lead in the 66th minute, as his shot from the edge of the area took a deflection off Carlos Soler and found the bottom corner.
Atletico’s Matheus Cunha had the ball in the net with five minutes to play, but the substitute’s effort was ruled out for offside. The away side clung on to secure their second league win of the season and move up into sixth place in La Liga.
TALKING POINT – REFEREE MAKES SOME BIG CALLS
Tonight’s match official, Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez, made some big refereeing decisions in the first half, both of which affected Valencia in different ways.
The first saw Musah’s fantastic 25-yard strike ruled out due to a foul in the build-up by Mouctar Diakhaby on Joao Felix, and on reflection, it proved to be the correct decision.
We talk about how sometimes decisions even out, and that looked to be the case for the second incident. Thierry Correia, who brought down Morata whilst the Atletico man was in on goal as the last man, was initially sent off for denying the striker a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
From the outset, the inital call looked correct. The only potential sticking point was how far out from goal Morata was at the time. Fernandez eventually reversed his decision after being advised by VAR to look at the pitchside monitor, and handed Correia a yellow card instead. That may have been good fortune for Los Che. In total, the referee was highly involved this evening, handing out a total of seven yellow cards to both sides.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – GIORGI MAMARDASHVILI
The 21-year-old highly rated goalkeeper from Georgia produced another stunning display this evening between the posts for Valencia to deny Atletico Madrid with some key saves.
The pick of the bunch was in the first half. With Alvaro Morata bearing down on goal one-on-one, after receiving the square cut-back from Joao Felix, Mamardashvili stood tall to come off his line and make a point-blank save with an outstretched leg to deny a certain goal for the visiting side.
In total, he made six saves during the match (four parries, two collections). After being named in Marca’s La Liga ‘discovery’ team of the season last term, big things are expected of the Georgian, and he proved to be excellent tonight.
Valencia CF: Mamardashvili 7, Correia 5, Comert 6, Diakhaby 6, Lato 6, Musah 7, Guillamon 6, Lino 6, Soler 6, Castillejo 6, Andre 6. Subs: Perez 6, Lopez 6, Gomez 6, Gonzalez 6, Foulquier 6.
Atletico de Madrid: Oblak 6, Saul 6, Reinildo 7, Witsel 6, Gimenez 7, Llorente 6, Koke 6, Kondogbia 6, de Paul 6, Felix 6, Morata 6. Subs: Carrasco 6, Correa 6, Griezmann 7, Lemar 7, Cunha 6.
4’ – OFFSIDE! – Morata has the ball in the net with a really nice finish from 25-yards, but the whistle has already gone for an offside against the forward. He timed his run just a little too soon there. But, Atleti are already finding pockets of space in which to work, which should concern Gennaro Gattuso on the Valencia bench.
23’ – GOAL RULED OUT BY VAR! – Just as Atletico Madrid squander a big chance, Valencia go up the other end and score a fantastic goal! The American sensation Yunus Musah puts his side in front with a bullet of a strike from 25-yards out! He smacks it with power low into the bottom-right corner! What a strike! However, the celebrations are short-lived, as Comert committed a foul in the build-up, and after a lengthy VAR check by the pitchside monitor by the referee, he overrules the goal! It remains 0-0!
41’ – RED CARD OVERTURNED! – Thierry Correia is initially shown a straight red card for taking out Morata whilst the striker was bearing down on goal as the last man in a clear goal-scoring opportunity. The referee pulls out the red card straight away. However, after viewing the incident again on the pitchside monitor, the match official decides to overturn his original decision and just give Correia a booking instead! Drama here just before half-time!
66’ – GOAL! (Antoine Griezmann) – What a way to introduce yourself here! Out of nothing, Atleti are ahead here at the Mestalla! Initially, Lemar plays him in with a superb square through ball, and the Frenchman lurks at the edge of the area. He takes a touch with his left foot and tries to caress the ball into the bottom-right corner, but the ball takes a deflection off Soler and finds its way into the net!
90′ – CROSSBAR! – Cunha almost comes close to scoring again! He is played in at the far post after a quick breakaway, but Mamardashvili gets a hand to the shot, and it cannons back off the crossbar and stays out! However, the Brazilian was already flagged up for offside in the build-up, so no goal would’ve stood there.