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Deportivo La Coruña
29 March 2014
• San Mamés Barria, Bilbao
Referee: José Antonio Teixeira Vitienes
• Attendance: 33000
Diego Costa 22'
That's it from me, bye for now.
Atletico grind out a hard win in San Mames to re-take the lead at the top of the table. Diego Costa and Koke completed the turnaround after Muniain's early opener, and Simeone's men did just enough to get the win that they needed. It's looking more and more like a straight shootout at Camp Nou for the title on the last day of the season! Bilbao meanwhile miss a chance to all but wrap up fourth place.
90' + 4'
Yellow Card Balenziaga
90' + 4'
That's the end of the game! Atletico have done it!
90' + 3'
Balenziaga is pulled up for a late handball, Atletico have a free kick deep in the opposition half, and that may just about do it for this game. The visitors are surely going to milk the remainder of the clock here.
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
And that indeed is Costa's last action of the match, as he leaves the game for Villa. All substitutions now used up from both sides.
Three minutes of added time but it may as well be 30, Bilbao aren't scoring again. Some theatrics from Costa in an incident where he was equally to blame waste more time for Atletico.
The stadium has gone dead silent since Laporte's dismissal. What was once a tough ask is now virtually an impossible job. I see no was back in this game for Bilbao. It's Atletico's points to lose.
Yellow/Red Aymeric Laporte
BILBAO COLLAPSE! Costa was sprinting forward and was tripped up by Laporte. The ball had broken kindly for Rodriguez, who was clean through, but the referee pulled up the play! Atletico are fuming, but their anger is tempered by the sight of Laporte's second yellow card. The hosts down to 10 men.
LAPORTE SENT OFF!
The Bilbao fans are still unhappy with the referee for his failure to award them a penalty minutes earlier. They've certainly got a case, but it's worth remembering that Atletico were denied a clear cut spot kick of their own with Laporte's earlier foul on Costa. Things evened out in the end.
Muniain is the next man to have a chance, as he runs into space at the top of the box and flashes an effort towards goal, but it goes wide of the far post! Atletico plot a substitution, as Rodriguez comes on for Raul Garcia, who hasn't been a factor in the game for a while.
COURTOIS WITH A MAGNIFICENT SAVE! Toquera has been in the thick of things since coming on, and he hooks a pinpoint cross towards Aduriz at the far post. The striker towards a header towards goal an it's headed in, but Courtois sticks out a massive paw to push it over the bar! Superb!
PENALTY? Toquero, in his first action since coming off the bench, is brought to the turf under a challenge from Turan. That was a meaty challenge from the Turk, and he didn't get near the ball! Bilbao should have had one there!
Yellow Card Muniain
De Marcos, another to miss a huge chance for Bilbao, is the next man to depart the game, as Valverde swaps him out for Toquero. The home side are clearly looking for an equaliser, but as both of their departures have shown, they've had their share of opportunities!
Óscar De Marcos
The match starting to die down at the moment, which will suit Atletico just fine. They've played this game brilliantly since going ahead, defending in numbers and providing some danger when they look to attack. Some worried Bilbao faces in the stands.
A neat touch by Arda Turan takes him past one man, but he tries to touch the ball down the outside of Balenziaga, who is having none of it. Good defending from the Bilbao left back.
Bilbao make their first change of the game. Susaeta, who has been lively in short bursts but missed that glorious chance in the first half, makes way for Guillermo, as the 20-year-old forward makes just his seventh appearance for the senior side.
Have to say that we haven't seen much from goalscorers Costa and Muniain in the second half. The Bilbao winger has rather been stymied out wide, while Costa isn't battling as hard as he was for the ball in the first half. Fatigue starting to creep in after an incredible exertion from both sides in this game.
Yellow Card Aymeric Laporte
Aduriz goes down theatrically when challenged by Miranda inside the area, but it was a clear dive from the striker. The referee barely glances at the play, and Aduriz's simulation goes unpunished.
As time progresses, it's becoming harder and harder to see a way back for Bilbao in this game. That chance for De Marcos when the scores were still at 1-1 really should have been buried. Now they have to hit back against the league's best defence.
The game has settled down in the last few moments, with the midfield battle taken centre stage once again. Iturraspe gets booked for a high knee into the stomach of Koke, and there's no argument from the Bilbao holding midfielder.
Yellow Card Iturraspe
What was Iraizoz doing there? The keeper rushes out to nearly the halfway line to intercept Koke's ball, but he loses his balance at the end, nearly allowing Turan the chance to lob him from long distance!
Bilbao continue to muster a response as Susaeta angles in a ball from the flanks into the area. Aduriz attacks it, but he cannot beat Courtois, who gets a big strong hand out to divert the effort over the crossbar. It was probably going over anyway, but he can't take that risk!
Yellow Card Diego Godín
Godin now booked for bringing down Aduriz, and Atletico have a fairly promising free kick in the opposition half.
Atletico are holding on to possession for the moment, and if this scoreline holds, they're heading back to the top of the league. But not quite though, as De Marcos has a go from 25 yards, which takes a deflection off Miranda, wrongfoots Courtois, but ends up on the roof of the net!
Sosa had fleeting moments of quality, but he was largely a peripheral figure throughout the game. On comes Arda Turan in his place - the Turk has been bossing midfields left right and centre this season.
BANG, that's how you do it! It seemed like a lost cause in attack, but Koke just about manages to squeeze it wide to Luis, who overlaps magnificently before clipping a ball in towards the near post. Koke continues his run forward, and shows great bravery to glance a header in!
ATLETICO TAKE THE LEAD!
Three potentially game changing moments and we're not even 10 minutes into the second half! Both sides miss glorious chances to take the lead, while Atletico have a particularly meaty bone to pick with the referee after he denied them what looked like a penalty after Laporte's foul on Costa. Don't touch that dial folks!
POOR defending from Atletico sees De Marcos glide towards goal down the right hand side of the box, but the visitors are bailed out by an even WORSE finish from De Marcos. The Spaniard gets his body shape and contact on the ball terribly wrong, hacking it over the top when the target was begging to be hit!
Costa takes a tumble in the area following the intervention of Laporte, and it looked like a legit penalty to me! The trailing leg of the Brazilian was dragged back by the Bilbao defender, but the referee does not flinch, and Atletico have nothing!
WHAT A CHANCE! That was almost the perfect start to the second half for Atletico, as another splendid Koke pass was brought down by the Brazilian, before he lashes the ball just wide of the bottom corner!
Here we go again!
Iker Muniain gave Bilbao an early lead excellently, but Atletico hit back impressively through Diego Costa, and have largely been dominant ever since with a slew of goalscoring openings. Bilbao have had their chances as well though, and it's just been a fascinating game. There's definitely more goals in this, so stay tuned!
45' + 1'
Barely a minute of added time before the referee blows the whistle to end the half.
Here goes my man Costa making friends on the playground again. He goes in clumsily on Susaeta, who positioned himself well to receive the contact and get the foul. The home fans do not like that one bit, but Costa is bemused as to why he was penalized.
Gabi becomes the first player in the book tonight after handling the ball from Susaeta's flick. The skipper will now be suspended for the home game against Villarreal, and he will be a big miss.
Yellow Card Gabi
I'm a big fan of the Miranda-Diego Godin partnership at the back for Atletico, but the pair have looked wobbly during Bilbao's best moments in this game. Miranda was out of position for Muniain's opener, while Godin could have marked Susaeta a lot better on his recent chance.
The match is dragged back to basics after that pair of gilt edged chances, with a series of scrappy fouls breaking up play and the momentum. The referee keeps his cards in his pocket however.
BILBAO WASTE ONE NOW! The visitors match Garcia's miss with their own head-scratching profligacy at the other end. Aduriz flicks a wonderful header into the path of Susaeta, who strides through the sleeping Godin and Miranda. Courtois races off his line, Susaeta glances a header goalwards, but he agonizingly misses the target! Should have been in!
BAAAAAAAD MISS. I'm shaking my head here, as Garcia wastes a massive chance to send his side ahead. Costa does wonderfully to dribble in from the left towards the box, and he flicks a delightful little backheel to match Luis' overlap. The fullback cuts it back accurately to Garcia, unmarked at the far post, but he leans back and sidefoots his finish over the bar!
Well the first half an hour has just flown by! It's been utterly absorbing watching these teams do battle. Plenty of fight, plenty of fire, sprinkled with a healthy dose of quality moments from both outfits. Chances have started to dry up, but don't bet on that continuing for long.
The fans, who were getting a little restless as Atletico dominated, have attempted to rouse their team once again with a fresh round of cheers and chants. But there seems to be no plan when Bilbao have the ball, their attacking play is incredibly predictable.
The decision by Simeone to err on the side of caution and start with Mario Suarez instead of Arda Turan has been vindicated so far. Suarez has not stopped running since the first whistle, and has successfully harried the opposition into a few mistakes.
As the match wears on, that strike from Muniain is looking increasingly like an aberration. Since that moment, Bilbao's enterprise has rather vanished in the attacking third, and it's Atletico who look like causing real problems whenever they attack. Costa in particular looks like he's got more goals in him.
Suarez sneaks in at the near post to make contact with Sosa's corner, but it's sent clean over the crossbar. Atletico have a two-on-two chance to break once again, but Costa barges right into the back of Iraola. There's something of a clash of heads, and Iraola comes off worse for wear. Foul against Costa.
Iturraspe was the man with the giveaway there, and Koke reacted quickest to poke it into the path of Costa. It's a deserved goal for the visitors, and Costa has shown his quality there. That's how you rise to the occasion!
Goal Diego Costa
DO NOT GIVE THIS MAN ANOTHER CHANCE! Atletico are level, but Bilbao shot themselves in the foot. A sloppy pass in the middle sees the ball flicked into the direction of Costa, who storms past San Jose and Laporte, and slides a cool finish home!
COSTA TIES IT UP!
San Jose does exceptionally well, keeping up with Costa stride for stride as the Brazilian attempts to race clear of the defence. He puts him off his shot, which is lashed hurriedly into the stands.
It's Atletico's turn to waste a free kick as Gabi's attempted feed is instead played clean out for a goal kick. The cantankerous Costa has already started beefing with the opposition, having some strong words for the referee about a yet undetermined slight.
The game has calmed down slightly after some end to end football in the last few minutes. Bilbao waste a free kick opportunity to test the defence as the ball is clipped right into the arms of Courtois. It's all so finely poised, with both sides looking more than capable.
BILBAO BREAK, and they have five men bearing down on three Atletico defenders. Oscar De Marcos gets the pass to match his run into space down the flanks, but his one-touch attempt to cut inside past his man instead ends up with a turnover, as Gabi covers and intercepts.
COSTA IS COMING INTO THIS GAME! But he's denied by a SPLENDID save from Iraizoz! Koke plays a typically fabulous ball through that splits the defence and sets Costa on his bike. He's one-on-one with Iraizoz, but cannot beat the keeper, who pushes the ball low to his right!
And here's that man Costa, trying to bulldoze his way past a trio of defenders, who successfully hound him off the ball at the top of the D. Atletico are starting to hold onto possession here, but a few aimless balls have gifted play back to the opposition far too easily.
Diego Costa has scored in each of Atletico's last four games, all wins. Two of those matches were decided by solitary strikes from the Brazilian. He's proven himself to be a magnificent match winner, as well as a big game player this season. And he'll need to rise to the occasion once again tonight.
The general consensus is that tonight's game is the second most difficult test for Simeone's side, ahead of their simply delicious season finale at Camp Nou against Barcelona. It's already proving to be a real examination of their character, as Bilbao are running things early on!
Assist San José
What a huge goal out of nowhere! A long, raking ball over the top from Iraola takes the slightest of nicks off Aduriz, and Muniain shows incredible pace to race clear of the back line and lift the ball over Courtois! After taking an age to drop, the ball finally nestles into the back of the net!
MUNIAIN SCORES WONDERFULLY!
Atletico were the first team to win at the new San Mames. Still large sections of the stadium closed off, including the one behind the Atletico goal. That hasn't stopped the fans from making an unbelievable racket so far. Imagine if we were inside a full house!
Bilbao playing in their traditional red and white strip, while Atletico don their yellow away kit for this game. Early handball called against Godin, who was unfortunate to leave his hand trailing, catching a deflection off Susaeta.
Here we go then as Atletico kick us off. Massive game this!
Atletico have definitely come out on top in the recent meetings between the pair, claiming the win in four of their last five games. Simeone's men also beat Bilbao in both legs of their Copa del Rey clash this season, winning 1-0 at home and 2-1 away. However, Bilbao can take some comfort in the fact that in the corresponding match last season, they emerged with a comfortable 3-0 win. This is never an easy trip for anyone.
Bilbao are doing pretty well for themselves as well, sitting six points clear of Sevilla in fourth place. Tonight's hosts have only lost one of their 12 games at the new San Mames, with both Barcelona and Real Madrid failing to win in the Basque Country. They're sitting in pole position for Champions League qualification, but three draws in their last four league games has seen the ship wobble as of late.
We all know the story for Atletico, who have shaken off the doubters and the haters to stand toe to toe with Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the table. Atletico have won nine of their last 10 games in La Liga, with the only blot being a highly credible 2-2 draw against Real Madrid. And other than that Derbi Madrileno tie, the only other time that the Rojiblancos have conceded during this 10 game streak was a 4-2 win at Rayo Vallecano. Incredible form from an incredible team.
Diego Simeone meanwhile springs something of an unexpected call, with Jose Sosa handed a start to impress in the front three at the expense of David Villa, who is benched. Arda Turan also has to settle for a spot amongst the substitutes, as Mario Suarez, Gabi and Koke make up the midfield three, with Raul Garcia playing in front of the trio.
Oscar De Marcos starts for the home side at the expense of Benat, in what is a fairly standard lineup from Ernesto Valverde. The club captain Carlos Gurpegi is missing with an injury, so in comes Mikel San Jose to take a place in the XI.
ATLETICO MADRID (4-3-3): Courtois; Juanfran, Godin, Miranda, Filipe Luis; Mario Suarez, Gabi, Koke; Jose Sosa, Raul Garcia, Costa.
ATHLETIC BILBAO (4-2-3-1): Iraizoz; Iraola, San José, Laporte, Balenziaga; Iturraspe, Rico; Susaeta, De Marcos, Muniain; Aduriz.
Right then, here's a look at our starting lineups.
A Lionel Messi penalty gave Barcelona a vital 1-0 win away to Espanyol in the Derbi Barceloni earlier in the day. That moved the Blaugrana onto 75 points after 31 games, handing the onus to Atletico tonight, who can retake the lead at the top of the standings by one point with a victory here.
Hello and welcome to our coverage as Atletico Madrid travel to the Basque Country to face Athletic Bilbao. My name is Keeghann Sinanan, and I'll be bringing you the blow-by-blow account of tonight's game.
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