A Thomas Lemar-inspired Atletico Madrid got their LaLiga campaign back on track with a hard-fought 2-0 win over 10-man Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Saturday.
Diego Simeone's side had won just one of their opening four games – leaving them seven points behind early pacesetters Barcelona – but bounced back to winning ways against their city rivals.
Lemar was denied a first goal for the club following his move from Monaco in July when his stunning 30-yard drive thumped against the crossbar, but it resulted in the opening goal regardless after bouncing in off goalkeeper David Soria's back.
He did get the maiden goal his bright display deserved after 60 minutes, applying the finishing touch to a sweeping counter-attack that carved open the Getafe defence.
Substitute Ivan Alejo was given a straight red card just four minutes after being introduced for a rash challenge on Saul Niguez as Getafe's hopes of getting back into the game fizzled out.
The game burst into life after 14 minutes as Atletico took a fortuitous lead when Soria unwittingly diverted Lemar's rebounding effort into his own net.
Getafe were reduced to efforts from distance during the first half, with Vitorino Antunes looking most likely to restore parity, but his two free-kicks were comfortably dealt with by Jan Oblak.
Atletico offered little threat at the start of the second period, but a superb move on the hour mark killed off the game. Koke played the decisive pass into the path of Lemar, who rounded Soria to slot into an empty net.
Oblak kept out an Angel Rodriguez drive soon after, but any hopes the hosts had of setting up a tense finale were extinguished in the 65th minute when Alejo received his marching orders for a stamp on Saul.
Antoine Griezmann saw two shots saved late on as the visitors sought to make their numerical advantage count, with Getafe ultimately avoiding further punishment.
Un 22 de septiembre de 2018,— LaLiga (@LaLiga) September 22, 2018
un extremo rojiblanco se presentó en sociedad.
Campeón del mundo, francés y rápido como el viento.
Marcó su primer gol con el @Atleti en el Coliseum.
Su nombre era THOMAS LEMAR. :heart_eyes:#GetafeAtleti pic.twitter.com/5HDillX0cj
What it means: Atletico kick-start their season
It was not pretty, but Atletico will hardly care. A midweek win over Monaco in the Champions League lifted the early season gloom surrounding the club and a second league win of the campaign suggests Simeone has belatedly got his side moving in the right direction.
Lemar makes his mark
He did not quite grab the opener, but there was no doubt Atletico's second was the impressive Frenchman's. Lemar was a threat all game and proved exactly why Simeone was prepared to spend big on him during pre-season.
Costa a shadow of his former self
Diego Costa scored his first of the season against Monaco, but he has now gone a whopping 14 games without a goal in LaLiga. He was denied by Soria in the second half, but an in-form Costa would not have given the Getafe goalkeeper a chance.
Atletico host Huesca on Tuesday before a mouth-watering derby at Real Madrid next Saturday. Getafe, meanwhile, travel to Alaves on Thursday.