A close range finish from Mario Mandzukic gave Atletico Madrid all three points at Getafe after a scrappy performance – but the win sees Diego Simeone’s side keep pace with the four other title challengers.
The Croatian international pounced on an error by Getafe goalkeeper Vicente Guaita to score the only goal of the game five minutes before the break and the visitors’ task should have been made easier when Getafe defender Alexis was shown a straight red card for clashing with Manzdukic.
However, Cosmin Contra’s side made the champions sweat for the win and squandered a number of chances to level late on.
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The result means Atletico stay fifth in the Primera Division table but are only two points adrift of leaders Barcelona and Sevilla.
This was a tight game of few clear cut chances. Atletico midfielder Mario Suarez had the first attempt on goal, trying his luck from outside of the area but skewing the ball well wide of goal. Getafe’s Mehdi Lacen then had an effort from similar range at the other end and got more power on his effort but watched it fizz over the bar.
Atletico began to turn the heat up as the first half progressed. Guilherme Siqueira kept probing down the left hand side and nearly got a goal for his efforts, beating a defender to catch a glimpse of the near post but Guaita punched the ball away.
However, the goalkeeper was less assured the next time Atletico attacked. Koke sent in a corner which was cleared as far as Antoine Griezmann, who attempted a half-volley at goal. It should have been a straightforward catch for Guaita but the goalkeeper could only send the ball bouncing back into the six-yard area, ricocheting off Arda Turan before Mandzukic stuck out a leg to prod home.
Getafe players accused their opponents of foul play while they jostled before the corner was taken, with Ruano looking particularly furious. The defender would lose his temper again in the 55th minute and this time the referee took action, sending Alexis off for slapping Mandzukic – with whom he had also clashed in the first half – in the face after the striker had challenged him for the ball.
Atletico did not exploit their advantage, though, and instead it was Getafe who went on the front foot.
Former Getafe goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya tipped over a corner from Sammir that was heading in and then caught a shot from Angel Lafita at the near post. Juan Rodriguez also caught sight of goal late on but pulled his shot wide of the near post, allowing Atletico to take all the points.