Sergio Aguero popped up with the winner in the 80th minute to condemn 10 man Deportivo to a home defeat and help Atleti push on for a Europa League spot
Despite having dominated for long spells, Atleti could not get the goal their play deserved. However the sending off of Lopo in the second half proved vital as the home team struggled to hang on with 10 man and the diminutive forward popped up late to break Depor hearts.
Deportivo made the brighter start to the game as they quickly pressurised the Atleti defence. A series of corners and crosses failed to threaten and Los Rojiblancos weathered this early storm as they eventually grabbed a foot hold in the game. The game was much more evenly poised after the frenetic opening minutes as both teams developed a passing rhythm and exchanged periods of possession.
Clear cut chances were at a premium throughout the first half though as both coaches played high defensive lines and there were many offside’s. The most controversial decision however was when Jose Antonio Reyes put the ball in the net as the referee awarded the goal but the linesman ruled it, correctly, offside.
It was not all one way traffic however at the Riazor as Los Turcos tried to break the deadlock through Xisco. The ex-Newcastle striker sent a well-struck shot near the top left corner but Davide De Gea was able to get a strong hand behind it.
Sergio Aguero also produced a moment of magic as his long range thumping effort was denied by the paint of the bar with Aranzubia beaten in the home side’s goal. As the half-time whistle went, both sides headed into the dressing room knowing they have a lot more to offer in what had been so far an overly-respectful, tame encounter.
After the break, the intensity of the game was lifted somewhat by a more energetic looking Los Colchoneros. Kun Aguero was given a half chance thanks to a poor defensive clearance but his swift swivel and powerful shot was well saved by the vigilant goalie. Shortly afterwards Lopo received his marching orders as a cynical foul on Aguero earned him his second yellow card of the match in the 58th minute.
With an extra man advantage, Atleti grew in stature as the game went on and they pushed the Branquiazuis onto the back foot. With Diego Forlan introduced as a substitute, Atletico Madrid coach Quique Flores looked to press on and grab the win as they looked to make the most of all their possession.
The substitution of the proved Uruguayan striker proved inspired as Forlan teed up Aguero unselfishly and he poked home the winner in the 80th minute. Depor made a late push to equalise but it was all in vain as the away side held out for three vital points.
The victory boosts Atletico Madrid’s push for a Europa League spot as they lie in 5th, one point ahead of Villarreal who have an extra game to play. Meanwhile Deportivo are now in a real fight for survival as the defeat leaves them floundering just three points above safety.