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Deportivo La Coruña
February 2, 2014
• Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández
• Attendance: 51800
David Villa 38'
Diego Costa 72'
Atletico sit three points clear of Barcelona at the top of the pile, though their lead could be cut to a single point by the end of the evening if city rivals Real Madrid can see of Athletic Bilbao. Sociedad, meanwhile, remain six points off Bilbao in fourth and will be hopeful Los Blancos can pick up three points later this evening. For now, though, I've been Tom Maston, and thanks for joining me.
And there goes the full-time whistle, accompanied by chants of Luis Aragones' name. The former Atletico coach would have been thrilled with that performance and would have been so happy to see Los Rojiblancos at the top of the table.
Just the single minute of stoppage time. Atletico can celebrate going back to the top of La Liga for the first time in 18 years.
Sociedad look a spent force now. They gave everything to get back into the game early in the second half, but once Costa found the net they have barely had a touch. The scoreline does seem slightly harsh, however.
GOAL!!! A perfect return for Diego as he finds the net from close range after Rodriguez pulled the ball back from the left-hand side. The Wolfsburg loanee has deserved that for his display since coming on earlier in the second half.
The game is beginning to wind down now with the result settled, though Atletico are now camped in the Sociedad half.
Yellow CardÍñigo Martínez
Inigo Martinez, who has had an indifferent match, picks up a booking for a rash tackle on Rodriguez.
Diego is starting to pull the strings here as he finds Costa on the edge of the box, but the striker's effort hits the offside Garcia and the opportunity goes begging.
GREAT SAVE! Bravo has certainly had a good night despite conceding three goals, and he continues to impress as he pulls off a wonderful save to deny Garcia as the substitute headed goalwards after a corner from the right.
Substitutions galore here as Koke is replaced by Rodriguez for the home side while Sociedad bring on Seferovic and Castro for Griezmann and Vela.
Sociedad had been the better team for much of this second half, but those two goals have just taken all the wind out of their sails and it now seems as if they are concentrating on damage limitation.
Atletico look in the mood for more, and they want a penalty as Diego goes down in the box. The midfielder seemed to go down fairly easily though and his appeal is waved away.
GOAL!!! Two goals in as many minutes and Atletico will lead La Liga tonight. Miranda is the man to find the net as Koke swings over a corner from the right and the defender rises highest to beat Bravo with a powerful header. An eighteen-year period of failing to lead the Primera Liga is about to end.
GOAL!!! That may well just seal Atletico's rise to the top of the table. Costa has been a threat all evening, and now he has the goal his performance has deserved as he breaks the offside trap before slotting past Bravo. Absolutely clinical.
Simeone isn't happy down on the touchline, and the referee needs to come across and have a word with the Atletico coach. His frustrations at his sides failure to kill this match off may be starting to boil over.
Yellow CardRaúl García
Garcia's disappointment continues as he picks up a harsh yellow card after the ball strikes his arm inside the hosts' half.
Wasted opportunity for the hosts as Diego swings in a cross for Garcia, who finds himself in acres of space. The substitute should really control the ball, but instead he opts for the first time header that flies harmlessly over the bar.
Agirretxe is straight into the action as he sees an effort blocked on the edge of the area before Vela sees a shot charged down. The striker appeals for handball but the referee isn't interested.
A first change of the evening for Sociedad as Zurutuza is replaced by form man Agirretxe.
Sociedad again look to find an equaliser as Pardo lets fly with a curling effort from the edge of the box, but it is too high to trouble Courtois. The visitors have certainly not given this up.
A first chance for Diego as he latches onto Costa's knock down on the edge of the box, but his effort is deflected over the top and resulting corner is well caught by Bravo.
There certainly hasn't been much of a pattern to the game since the break, with both sides looking fairly nervy. Neither wants to concede with the game still on a knife edge.
One loan signing replaces another for the hosts as Sosa is withdrawn, and there is a great round of applause for the returning Diego.
Costa has looked very threatening whenever he has looked to drive goalwards, and the big striker is at it again as he gets to the byline on the left, only for his cut back to evade the onrushing Koke.
Some excitement down on the Atletico bench as Diego looks set to make his return to Estadio Vicente Calderon after his loan move from Wolfsburg. Meanwhile, Ansotegi fires wide for Sociedad as they continue to push forward.
Vela, who was isolated for much of the first half, is certainly starting to come into the game more, even though the former Arsenal man is having to come into a wider area to have an impact. Sociedad continue to press without making any real inroads.
Little goalmouth action to speak of as yet in the second period with both sides guilty of giving the ball away in promising positions. The longer Sociedad stay in this game the more nervy the hosts will become.
The hosts have started to see more of the ball after a shaky start to the second half, and all of a sudden they look much more comfortable. After missing out on going top twice in as many weeks, they will not want to throw away the opportunity again.
Sociedad have certainly started the second half the better, and some replays of an earlier corner are suggesting the ball struck Godin's arm in the Atletico box. The hosts need to reassert themselves here.
Almost a chance from nothing for Sociedad as a long ball into the box looks set to nestle in Courtois' arms, only for Juanfran to inexplicably run in front of him and head just wide of his own post.
The players are ready and Atletico get us going in the second half...
The players are beginning to make their way back onto the field as Atletico look to seal their place at the top of La Liga. If they perform as they did in the first half then surely they will overtake Barcelona at the summit.
Atletico have certainly deserved their lead at the break, and though Bravo hasn't been overly busy in the Sociedad goal, the hosts have always looked the most likely to break the deadlock. Jagoba Arrasate has a big fifteen minutes on his hands. I'll be back in ten minutes to see whether he can get his side going in the second half.
And with that the half-time whistle blows, with Villa's 182nd La Liga goal the difference. The striker is now the joint 11th top goalscorer in the league's history, though an injury has put pay to him adding to that tally this afternoon.
45' + 1'
Almost a second for the hosts in the dying seconds of the half as Sosa benefits from some sloppy play by Angel to jink through the Sociedad defence before curling an effort straight at Bravo.
Garcia's first real impact on the game sees him involved in getting the ball out to Insua on the left, but as the full-back crosses to the back post the substitute cannot get on the end of it and the ball runs out for a goal kick.
Another wasted free-kick from Atletico runs straight through to Bravo. The set-pieces have not been good from Simeone's side so far this evening.
Villa's joy is short-lived, though, as he goes down in the middle of the field with no one else around him, and is forced into being substituted by Garcia. A blow for the hosts as their goalscorer departs.
Villa celebrated his strike by pointing to the heavens as a way of dedicating the goal to the late Aragones. A fitting tribute from a man who played a number of internationals under the Spain coach. Meanwhile Koke picks up a yellow card.
GOAL!!! Atletico lead and Villa is the man who has found the net. The Spain forward is in the right place to steer home Costa's cross after Insua drove the hosts forward. As it stands, the hosts will be top of La Liga this evening.
Neither team has come close to breaking the deadlock in the last few moments as he begin to look towards half-time. Costa has been frustrated so far, and his record of never scoring against Sociedad in six games looks set to continue.
Bravo has been excellent in the Sociedad goal so far, and he again shows what he is capable of with an excellent jump and catch above Costa after Koke floats a corner in from the left.
Atletico are having to revert to throwing balls into the box and searching for Costa, but Sociedad are dealing with it thus far. The hosts may well have to be more clever to break down this stubborn defence.
Almost the kiss of death there for Sociedad as Costa gets a shot off at goal but his effort from the edge of the area is too high. Inigo Martinez, who has been everywhere in the opening half an hour, was at fault for that one after a poor headed clearance.
The game seems to have settled down somewhat after a little bit of Sociedad pressure, though Atletico are yet to really get Costa and Villa involved in and around the box.
Koke's set-piece delivery can be a potent weapon, but the midfielder is some way off-target this time as he delivers a cross from the right that Bravo collects at the second attempt despite Inigo Martinez seemingly getting in his way.
Much better from Sociedad as Vela manages to get away down the left-hand side and pull a cross back for Griezmann, but his effort is straight at Courtois and the goalkeeper can parry before gathering at the second attempt.
The resulting free-kick is deflected wide before Inigo Martinez heads Pardo's corner wide at the back post. Good period of pressure from the visitors.
Some controversy here as Griezmann is seemingly caught on the edge of the Atletico area by Miranda, though the midfielder is booked. However, the referee seems to have changed his mind, instead awarding a free-kick to Sociedad and booking the defender.
Sociedad have really struggled to get into this game, with Vela looking isolated up front on his own.
Juanfran's crosses from the right are always a danger to opposing teams, and the right back is again causing a threat as he delivers a low cross into the six-yard box that is deflected just out of Villa's path at the near post.
The first booking of the match goes to Zurutuza as he cynically trips Costa after the striker was picked out by a quick throw forward from Courtois.
A first real sign of Koke this evening as the talented midfielder attempts a spectacular volley from distance, but his effort skews well wide of Bravo's right-hand post. The hosts have dominated thus far.
DISALLOWED! Atletico thought they had the lead as Villa broke through after a Sosa through ball to round Bravo and score, but the offside flag is up. Simeone is not happy on the touchline, but replays suggest it was the correct decision.
Almost a disaster for Inigo Martinez as a low cross from the left intended for Villa is deflected goalwards by the centre-half. Fortunately it is straight at Bravo and he can gather.
Atletico win a corner on the right-hand side that Gabi swings in towards the near post, but Suarez cannot get his header on target, and though the midfielder screams for another corner, the referee awards a goal kick.
As the clock ticks past the eighth minute, the stadium comes to life to pay yet another tribute to Aragones. The home fans are singing their former player and coach's name due to his shirt number being eight during his time at the club.
A first half-chance for Sociedad as Pardo swings in a free-kick from the left, but Inigo Martinez cannot get on the end of it at the back post despite his full-length stretch towards the ball.
Atletico do not seem to have got their usual passing game going as yet, though Costa looks very dangerous whenever the ball is played into his feet. After a lean spell, Sociedad could be about to feel the full force of the powerful forward.
The Atletico fans are almost off their seats though as Diego Costa sets off on a bustling run from just inside the Sociedad half. The sought after striker does brilliantly to hold off Martinez before forcing Bravo into a save at his near post. The goalkeeper holds on well, however.
There is certainly a subdued atmosphere inside the ground after the tribute to Aragones, and neither side have really got going yet either.
Sociedad kick-off and we are underway...
Plenty of tears around Estadio Vicente Calderon as we now get ready for kick-off ahead of this crucial encounter.
The two teams are now out on the field ahead of a moment's applause for Aragones, who also let Atletico to La Liga success in his time as coach of the club. Once this final tribute has been made, we shall be underway.
This match takes place under the cloud of the passing of former Spain coach Luis Aragones, and Atletico are paying a fitting tribute to the man, with his image on the big screen and plenty of supporters with banners showing their appreciation to the man that laid much of the groundwork ahead of Spain's success in recent years.
David Villa's performance this evening could be crucial to Atletico's chances of moving to La Liga summit. The Spain striker has played second fiddle to Diego Costa for much of the campaign, though with ten goals to his name it isn't as if he isn't pulling his weight. However, his performances haven't quite matched those that we saw at Valencia and Barcelona, and he could yet prove a crucial matchwinner in the run-in to the end of the season.
Some other news coming out of the Atleti camp today has come from Thibaut Courtois' father, Thierry, who has being telling RTBF that his son will return to parent club Chelsea at the end of the season rather than moving to Real Madrid or Barcelona. The Belgium international is reportedly seen as Petr Cech's successor at Stamford Bridge, and it seems Jose Mourinho is reluctant to allow him to leave on a permanent basis.
There are now just 15 minutes until kick-off, and though much of the talk surrounding this match is regarding whether Atletico can move to the top of the table, Sociedad cannot be underestimated. They currently lie sixth in La Liga table, and a victory here this evening would see them consolidate the Europa League berth that they currently occupy.
So Atletico make four changes from their Copa Del Rey win over Athletic Bilbao in midweek, with Villa, Insua, Sosa and the fit again Suarez all taking their place in the eleven. Deadline day signing Diego must wait for his opportunity from the bench alongside Raul Garcia. Usual left-side Filipe Luis and Arda Turan are both unavailable.
Real Sociedad: Bravo; C. Martinez, Ansotegi, I. Martinez, Angel; Gaztanaga, Pardo; Prieto, Zurutuza, Griezmann; Vela.
Atletico Madrid: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Insua; Suarez, Gabi, Sosa, Koke; Villa, Costa.
As I mentioned, the two line-ups are in ahead of kick-off, so let's take a look at who will be taking the field at Estadio Vicente Calderon...
Barcelona's shock home defeat to Valencia on Saturday has given both Madrid sides the boost they need ahead of their respective fixtures this evening, and Atleti can draw first blood tonight if they can see off sixth place Sociedad. Anything other than a victory, however, and Real could usurp both them and Barcelona at the top of the table. The hosts have selected a strong line-up as they look to go three points clear ahead of Los Blancos' kick-off against Athletic Bilbao.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Atletico Madrid's Primera Liga encounter against Real Sociedad in the Spanish capital. Diego Simeone's side have missed the chance to move Barcelona at the top of the table twice in as many weeks, but just a point tonight would see them climb to the summit at the Catalan side's expense. I'm Tom Maston and I'll be guiding you through all the action.
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