Yannick Carrasco’s last-minute penalty snatches all three points for Atletico Madrid, handing the 10-man hosts a 2-1 win over Espanyol at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Raul de Tomas scored Espanyol’s equaliser after a controversial red card, putting the home side’s top-four hopes in serious jeopardy.
But Atletico scored in the last minute of the game from the penalty spot after De Tomas handled the ball inside the box.
The first half did not contain an abundance of opportunities for either side. The only shot on target in the half came from an Espanyol corner. Leandro Cabrera makes an easy run at the near post and his powerful header was just tipped over the bar by Jan Oblak.
Atletico Madrid looked quite lethargic in the first 45 , which may have been a hangover due to their dramatic match against Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals earlier in the week.
Their best chance of the first half came when a longball to Joao Felix had the young striker running towards goal. However, his shot was mistimed, and it went well over the bar.
The second half saw a completely different Atletico side, and some very crucial changes by Diego Simeone meant that in the 52nd minute, the home side found the back of the net through substitute Yannick Carrasco.
They looked to be cruising to a victory, however a second yellow card for Geoffrey Kondogbia certainly changed the course of the match. The replay showed that the ball went off Felipe’s boot before it was handled, but the decision stood despite loud protests from the Atleti bench and the home crowd.
The resulting free-kick led to Espanyol’s equaliser with De Tomas’ shot initially saved by Oblak. However, the goalkeeper made a rare mistake, and the ball slipped out of his hand, off the post, and into the back of the net.
Nevertheless Atletico would go on to steal all three points as a lengthy VAR judged De Tomas to have handled inside the area from a corner before Carrasco tucked his penalty into the bottom corner in the 100th minute.
Up next, Atletico will host Granada in the league as they continue their fight for a top four spot. Espanyol, who have done incredibly well in their first season back in the top flight, will try to put the last minute drama of today behind them as they are visited by Rayo Vallecano.
TALKING POINT: REFEREE DRAMA
Jorge Vazquez will certainly be getting all the headlines in Spain tonight, as the referee made his mark on the match. In the first half, he made some eye-brow raising decisions, such as booking Diego Lopez for time wasting in 33rd minute, despite the Espanyol keeper simply just lining up to take a goal kick. However, the Spanish really made his mark on the match in the second half.
In the 71st minute, he decided to book Kondogbia for a handball that was clearly unavoidable, which resulted in Espanyol’s equaliser. The Atletico Madrid bench were left fuming at his decision, to the point where one of the assistant coaches was booked for his complaints, and one has to question why VAR did not overturn the decision.
Late in the match, Vazquez seemed to again make the wrong decision after waving away a penalty incident from an Atletico corner. However, this time he was alerted by the VAR referees to take a second look. After about eight minutes, Vazquez eventually came to what was the right decision, and pointed to the spot, allowing the home side to equalise in the 98th minute. The decision had the Espanyol bench and players incredibly disappointed, and quite a few had surrounded Vazquez after the full-time whistle.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: YANNICK CARRASCO
The substitute was perfect for Simeone to bring in, and he made all the difference. In the first, Atletico looked slow, tired, and uninterested. Carrasco, Matheus Cunha, and Antoine Griezmann all coming on at half-time made a world of difference. The three consistently got the better of Espanyol’s backline, and Carrasco particularly caused Aleix Vidal all kinds of problems. The Belgian was also cool and calm when he stepped up to slot home the penalty late in the match. With two goals and three shots on target, he has proved to be instrumental in Atletico’s hunt for a top four finish.
ATLETICO: Oblak 6, Vrsaliko 6, Savic 6, Felipe 7, Lodi 6, Llorente 7, Koke 7, Kondogbia 6, Lemar 6, Correa 6, Felix 6… Subs: Mandava 7, De Paul 7, Carrasco 8, Cunha 7, Griezmann 7.
ESPANYOL: Lopez 6, Calero 6, Gomez 6, Cabrera 7, Pedrosa 6, Gil 6, Bare 7, Darder 6, Vilhena 6, De Tomas 7, Puado 6… Subs: Vila 6, Vidal 5, Morlanes 6, Melendo 6, Lei 6.
6’ – ESPANYOL CHANCE: Huge chance for the visitors! It’s too easy for Cabera who gets a header at the near post, and it’s on target. Oblak just tips it over the bar before yelling at his defenders for allowing the Espanyol player to get to the ball so easily.
36’ – ATLETICO OPPORTUNITY: Long ball to Felix, and he’s one on one with the keeper, as the defender is behind him. He unfortunately skies it. Big chance wasted.
52’ – GOAL! ATLETICO MADRID 1-0 ESPANYOL: That’s the start they needed! Carrasco pulls the ball back onto his right foot after he makes a great run and receives the ball. Once he gets the ball onto his right, he scores.
71’ – RED CARD! Wow! Kondogbia gets a second yellow for a handball. The replay shows that the ball bounces off of Felipe’s boot, which is super unlucky. The commentators are a bit confused as to why VAR has seemingly not overturned this.
74’ – GOAL! ATLETICO MADRID 1-1 ESPANYOL: Well, that decision certainly changed things. A rebound from the freekick lands into the net. Big mistake from Oblak who initially makes the save. The Atletico bench is fuming, with one of the assistant coaches getting a yellow for his complaints.
90+10’ GOAL! ATLETICO MADRID 2-1 ESPANYOL: Atletico wanted a pen after De Tomas handles the ball after the corner. VAR took a look after the ref waved on. After a few more minutes, the ref is asked to take a look himself, and he eventually points to the spot. Carrasco seals the win by scoring the penalty. Crazy, late drama!!