By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
It didn’t take him long. Radamel Falcao gave Atletico Madrid the lead against Chelsea with a delicate dink after just six minutes, curled a sublime second before the first half’s midway point and slotted home the third before the interval. The Tiger had roared – and that was that.
Pre-match talk had concerned Fernando Torres and a debate over who was the superior striker – he or Falcao. Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo had weighed in with his own opinion: Falcao was great, he said, but Torres is better.
The comparison did not flatter Fernando. The former Atletico hero had claimed he wouldn’t celebrate if he scored against the team he loves. However, there was little danger of that.
Torres cost Chelsea £50m in January 2011, months before Atletico paid Porto £35m to sign Falcao. Hindsight, of course, is a wonderful thing, but only one player looks worth their price tag now – and it’s not the Spaniard.
|HOW FALCAO RATED VS CHELSEA
|Scored a hat-trick with three sublime finishes and hit the woodwork twice, and that was just in the first 45 minutes. Dazzling, and given a huge ovation when he left the field with minutes remaining.|
In fact, Atletico only paid Porto half of that fee, with the other £17.5m covered by Jorge Mendes’ investment group. What plans the Portuguese super-agent has for the Colombian now, however, is anyone’s guess.
Falcao himself is in no hurry to move. The Colombian recently told Goal.com that he is happy at Atletico and that he feels right at home in La Liga – even for a comparative lesser light like Atletico.
But with him in the side and under the impressive coaching of Diego Simeone, perhaps Atletico can emerge from the pack and challenge Spain’s duopoly.
In his conversation with Goal.com, the 26-year-old claimed he is behind both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. On Friday night's evidence, however, he is right up there with the world’s two finest footballers. And with six goals in just three games this season already (back-to-back hat-tricks against Athletic Bilbao and now Chelsea), he could even match the duo’s stratospheric scoring stats.
Chelsea themselves were heavily linked with Falcao last summer, but it is thought Porto were not keen to sell their prized player to a club who had already signed up their coach, Andre Villas-Boas.
The Blues will be regretting that now, but may be back in for the Colombian some time in future. The striker’s release clause is set at a hefty yet manageable fee of £55m – and you can imagine several sides fancying Falcao for that amount of money. Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid are likely to be among them.
For the moment, though, he belongs to Atletico. And the Tiger roared to crush the Blues in savage style on Friday night. Now, let the catfight for his signature begin.