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Primera División

  • October 19, 2014
  • • 6:00 AM
  • • Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
  • Referee: Iñaki Bikandi Garrido
  • • Attendance: 54069
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Atletico Madrid 2-0 Espanyol: Simeone's men take the points

After losing before the international break, Diego Simeone's side bounced back against Espanyol.

Champion Atletico Madrid stayed within touching distance of La Liga leaders Barcelona by edging to a 2-0 win over Espanyol on Sunday.

Tiago Mendes' superb header just before halftime put Atleti ahead before Mario Suarez struck in the 71st minute to secure all three points at Estadio Vicente Calderon.

All eyes were on Diego Simeone's men after they stumbled to a 3-1 defeat against Valencia prior to the international break. 

Atleti subsequently entered the game in fifth position - eight points behind Barca with a game in hand. Yet it was able to grab a crucial success against an Espanyol side which was unbeaten in its last four games thanks to Tiago and Suarez.

The duo's efforts lifted the Spanish champion to fourth, while uts opponents dropped to 11th.

Simeone made four changes from the loss to Valencia, Jesus Gamez, Miranda, Guilherme Siqueira and Antoine Griezmann replaced by Juanfran, Jose Gimenez, Cristian Ansaldi and Raul Garcia. Salva Sevilla started in place of Victor Sanchez in the sole Espanyol change following the 2-0 triumph over Real Sociedad last time out.

Atletico almost took the lead in just the second minute, Tiago flicking on Gabi's corner to the back post - where Arda Turan unleashed a powerful volley that forced Kiko Casilla into a stunning reactionary save.

Miguel Angel Moya, Casilla's opposite number, was pressed into action soon after, the goalkeeper producing a point-blank stop to deny Alvaro Vazquez from Sergio Garcia's fine center.

Casilla was then forced to turn Koke's low strike around the post.

Atleti was particularly dangerous from set pieces, illustrated by Tiago forcing Casilla into another save from Gabi's corner. But Casilla could do little as Tiago opened the scoring after 43 minutes, looping a header into the far corner from Gabi's superb cross.

Atleti flew out of the blocks at the start of the second period, although their attacks were lacking the desired ingenuity. Espanyol grew into the half and, sensing an opportunity, pressed forward in search of an equalizer.

That left it susceptible to the counter-attack, epitomized by Mario Mandzukic forcing a good stop from Casilla as Atletico quickly transitioned from defense to attack.

But it was again excellence from set pieces that brought the crucial second goal with 19 minutes left. Diego Godin rose highest to meet Koke's corner, his header finding Raul Jimenez - who then nodded back across goal for Suarez to tap into an empty net when the ball already seemed destined to cross the line.

That seemed to take the wind out of Espanyol's sails, with the host almost adding a third when Griezmann rattled the outside of the post from a tight angle having rounded Casilla.

This miss mattered little, however, as Atleti saw out the rest of the game to take the spoils.

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