Valencia’s speed wobble against Getafe two weeks ago turned out to be more than just that when they lost control completely against Eibar on Saturday losing 2-1 at Ipurua. It opened the door for Atlético, however, who welcomed Alavés to the Wanda Metropolitano just a few minutes after full time up north. With a win, Atlético could move to second and three points behind Barcelona.
Alavés, under Abelardo Fernández, had won two in two and looked a far more competent opponent than they might have done just a few short weeks earlier. Organised in defence, sharp on the break and positive in their approach in the opening half, they were a match for the hosts in the with Atlético failing to ever trouble Pacheco.
Saúl Ñíguez struck from outside the box on one occasion and it almost looped over the keeper and Koke had another effort that was half-blocked before forcing a save from Pacheco but other than that, Atlético were struggling for ideas.
Atlético enjoyed 66% of the ball in that half but they were matched for shots on and off target by the visiting side. It was all square at the break with Simeone eager to not let this golden chance to go second slip through his hands.
He made a move with Angel Correa’s close control and evasiveness called upon for the second 45.
It was much the same for the start of that second half even if Correa did seem to give Atlético an added impetus in the final third. The spark was needed but in terms of tangible results from the change, Atlético were yet to see any.
Simeone’s last two subs on 70 minutes were intended to finally produce the goal. And they did just that. Just five minutes after coming on, Fernando Torres tapped home a lethal cross from Vrsaljko that arrived in low and hard. Atlético, who struggle with goals off the bench, had the lead.
Given how little Alavés had troubled their opponents in the second half, it seemed a stretch to think they could finally kick into gear. They couldn’t and despite the fact that it wasn’t ideal for Atlético or Simeone, they continue to rack up wins, are undefeated in the league and sit second with pressure on Barcelona to win on Sunday against Depor with El Clásico on the horizon too.