An eighth-minute goal from Koke guided Atlético Madrid to a gritty win over Getafe on Saturday evening.
Getafe failed to score for the 11th consecutive league fixture against Atlético, but they did have chances late. Jan Oblak saved a Fayçal Fajr penalty that should not have been awarded, and the Slovene also stopped an Ángel Rodríguez header to keep his side ahead. Atleti held on for all three points and are now all but certain to finish second in the league.
Diego Simeone picked a strong team even as the Europa League final beckons midweek. A veteran full back tandem got the nod while Stefan Savić stepped in to replace José Giménez. Simeone also elected to return to the cuatropivote that served as a hallmark of this season’s early months — Ángel Correa came off the bench while Vitolo continued his recovery from injury.
The decision to play many of his best players paid off early for Simeone as Atlético went ahead inside eight minutes. Koke picked out Juanfran bounding up the wing to his right. The ex-Spain international played the ball to Antoine Griezmann in the box, and the Frenchman took a quick look to see Koke still on his run. The canterano then stopped, steadied himself and lashed a right-footed shot past Vicente Guaita to hand Atleti the early advantage.
Diego Costa soon found himself one-on-one with Guaita — thanks to a great Griezmann pass — but really should have done better as he saw his shot turned aside easily. Other than that chance, the first half was quite scrappy with three yellow cards shown. Atlético limited opportunities though and were content to go into halftime 1-0 up.
Other than some inadvertent friendly fire — Thomas cleared a ball off Gabi’s face, Diego Godín accidentally kicked Savić while trying to clear — the second half was relatively sleepy and danger-free until the 78th minute, when Fajr missed his penalty. Referee Javier Alberola Rojas had given it after he judged Godín to have fouled Ángel Rodríguez in the box — replay showed that there was little if any contact between the two players. Oblak made the fingertip save anyway, a lunging effort to his right.
Rojas refused to give Getafe a second chance moments later when it looked as if Juanfran had handled the ball in the box, and Atlético saw two big chances — one through Fernando Torres, the other through Kévin Gameiro — go begging late.
Nonetheless, Simeone’s men saw out a tight result, one that denies Getafe a chance to play in next season’s Europa League.
Getafe XI: Guaita; Damián, Dakonam, Bruno, Antunes; Flamini (Sergio Mora 60’), Fajr, Portillo, Amath (Ángel 52’); Remy (Pacheco 72’), Molina
Atlético XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Godín, Savić, Filipe Luís; Thomas, Saúl, Gabi, Koke (Correa 69’); Griezmann (Torres 62’), Costa (Gameiro 62’).
Goals: Koke 8’