Atletico Madrid lost for the first time this season last weekend and wanted to ensure that that defeat did not turn into consecutive losses against Malaga on Saturday afternoon.
With Koke absent from the squad after picking up a red card in that clash with Sevilla, Diego Simeone was forced to start with Saul Niguez in the centre flanked by Gabi with Nico Gaitan, Yannick Carrasco, Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro in front of the midfield.
The high-flying Belgian, Carrasco, got Atletico off to the perfect start when he slotted past Carlos Kameni after seven minutes to give Atletico a lead they could never lose.
Atletico, a team who have become accustomed to winning, or at least not losing, needed that goal to settle them down and it also helped the home fans find their voice after the loss at Sevilla.
They were well and truly in full song when Kevin Gameiro got their second on 25 minutes following some horrific defending from Malaga.
That 2-0 lead was cut in half when Nico Gaitan was adjudged to have fouled Fran Ricca in what looked like an unthreatening area of the field. By the time Sandro Ramirez saw how far he marched Atletico’s wall back, with Gabi and Correa in it, he figured he would have a go. Have a go he did and he whipped the ball beyond Oblak who will be upset that he didn’t make a better effort at saving the unlikely goal.
As Ruben Uria says: Atletico have conceded some absolute belters in recent weeks. Perhaps this is the only way to score against Oblak and company.
Manu, Isaac Cuenca, hoy Sandro..al Atlético le hacen golazos en casa.— Rubén Uría (@rubenuria) October 29, 2016
The two goal advantage was restored when Filipe Luis found Antoine Griezmann with a perfect pass, before Griezmann laid it off to Gameiro with a cushioned header. A left-footed touch and a right-footed strike later and Atletico were 3-1 up with half-time approaching.
The second half started much the same as the first with Atletico looking compact at the back and threatening up front but they could not add that fourth goal. Gameiro came close after a slick passage of play that moved him beyond two Malaga defenders but Kameni proved more difficult to beat this time as he punched away the French strikers effort.
Filipe Luis had a shot that looked like it was going off target only to hit Griezmann and force a save from Kameni yet again but the French man was ruled to have been offside in any case. Atletico were looking most likely to score next.
Juanpi, freshly off the bench had different ideas, when he made a dangerous darting run down the left-hand side before Stefan Savic took him down only to see him receive his second yellow and ergo his marching orders, leaving Atletico short at the back and with plenty of time left on the clock.
Ivan Camacho capitalised on the lack of numbers and some poor defending when he pulled one back for the visitors with a header from a corner.
The game turned quite sour at that point with some wreckless challenges from both sides and some time-wasting by the home side, according to the referee, which Oblak was put in the book for.
For the remaining 15 minutes, Atletico never looked in total control of the game but they never looked like losing it either. When Yannick Carrasco raced 30 yards to win the ball and fire past Kameni from an acute-looking angle, it was lights out for Malaga. 4-2 with just minutes remaining.
If it wasn’t over at that point, it certainly was when Chory was given his second yellow and walked down the tunnel before the referee had even brandished the red card.
Atletico tend to find it hard against Malaga and were given a game at the Vicente Calderon but Simeone and his crew will be delighted with the way the night ended as they keep pace with Real Madrid atop La Liga for another week.