Fernando Torres is back to lead the Atletico Madrid attack but an injured Yannick Ferreira Carrasco exited early in the second half, so there were mixed emotions for Diego Simeone’s side Sunday in a 1-0 victory at Getafe.
Torres, a longtime Atletico fan favorite scored the goal as the visitors prevailed and moved back into a share of the La Liga lead. But the loss of the speedy young Belgian, who eventually was stretchered down the tunnel, could pose a major problem for an attack that has sputtered much of the past month.
With Barcelona kicking off minutes later against Celta Vigo it was not expected that Atletico’s share of the lead on 54 points would last the evening. More significantly Diego Simeone’s team needs to rediscover its attacking rhythm especially with a league test against Villarreal immediately ahead before a Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven in 10 days and the derby at Real Madrid coming in two weeks.
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The victory moved Atletico a point ahead of Real Madrid in what is looming as a fight for second place and was their sixth victory in their last 10 matches in all competitions. Getafe, which had begun the season well, slumped to a fourth consecutive defeat and remains only five points above the drop zone.
Torres made his presence felt immediately when he combined perfectly with Carrasco to open the scoring in just 61 seconds. Having needed nearly six months to go from 99 goals to 100 for Atletico, Torres made it 101 and two goals in two matches before the fans at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez had barely settled.
Carrasco made all the running to create the goal, darting down the left, then crossing between goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and the last line of defenders. Torres darted between Juan Cala and Santiago Vergini to first-time the opportunity into the top net.
Torres’ return gave Atletico a different look, available up top with Carrasco to chase down balls from Koke and Gabi to stretch the defense. That had been missing with Torres unavailable and Antoine Griezmann not combining as effectively with Carrasco.
Carrasco was helped off the field just eight minutes into the second half when he injured his right ankle in a clash with Damian Suarez. The Atletico winger could not put any weight on it as he exited in pain. Oliver Torres took his place with Griezmann then partnering Fernando Torres at the top of the attack. There was no immediate word on the extent of Carrasco’s injury
Getafe had a fair amount of the ball but did little with it, not making Jan Oblak work in the Atletico goal. Pablo Sarabia, having passed a late fitness test to make the starting eleven, was the most effective force, working wide on the right but not finding the needed support in the middle.
With Juanfran, Diego Godin and Filipe Luis back to partner Jose Maria Gimenez, the Atletico defense was its usually composed, tough self. The shutout meant they have allowed just 11 goals in 24 La Liga matches, six fewer than Barcelona and seven less than Villarreal, which has the third-best defensive record in the league.