A Stefan Savić own goal and a Léo Baptistão strike condemned Atlético Madrid to a first-ever league defeat at their new stadium, as Espanyol ran out 2-0 winners at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday afternoon.
Savić hit a glancing header past his own keeper following an initial Óscar Melendo shot. The deflection caught Jan Oblak by surprise and he had no chance to keep it out, while ex-colchonero Baptistão put the game away on 77 minutes. Atlético’s profligate, Antoine Griezmann-less attack could not respond despite being given nearly an entire second half against LaLiga’s 16th-placed team. The stunning result is just Espanyol’s eighth win all-time against Atlético away — and pending the outcome of Sunday night’s Clásico, possibly puts Real Madrid in the driver’s seat to claim second place.
In trying to keep a thin squad as fresh as possible, Diego Simeone benched Gabi, Antoine Griezmann, Gabi, Diego Godín and Saúl Ñíguez for this match. Filipe Luís started his first match for 51 days while Kévin Gameiro was brought back in to partner Fernando Torres. Diego Costa’s suspension necessitated this pairing, and his absence was felt most strongly as the match moved along.
A low-energy first half contained really just two significant moments. Oblak made a stunning save off the post from a Gerard Moreno shot about half an hour in — but minutes before, Simeone had to remove Vitolo and replace him with B-team midfielder Arona Sané. Vitolo was substituted after feeling a twinge in his right thigh, and his status for the May 16 Europa League final has to be up in the air.
It was in the second half where things really popped off. A quick-moving counterattack from an Atlético corner led to a shot that Oblak seemingly was in perfect position to stop. But a late-arriving Savić headed the ball not away but in to the net for an own goal. Melendo, who took the initial shot, would then set up Baptistão to score against his old club — the Brazilian’s clean strike marked the second time in three years (with two different clubs) he’d gone and scored against Atleti.
With Simeone deciding Griezmann would be rested no matter what, los rojiblancos had little recourse and even less inspiration in front of goal. Pau López was not forced into a difficult save and kept only his ninth clean sheet. It was a disappointing afternoon overall for Atlético, who now need Barcelona to win El Clásico in order to maintain their slim edge for second place over their neighbors from the Bernabéu.
Atlético XI: Oblak; Vrsaljko, Savić, Giménez, Lucas, Filipe Luís (Gabi 65’); Thomas, Vitolo (Arona 26’), Koke (Saúl 46’); Gameiro, Torres.
Espanyol XI: Pau; Javi López, David López, Naldo, Vilá; Víctor Sánchez, Darder (Roca 73’), Carlos Sánchez, Melendo (Sergio García 78’); Baptistão, Moreno (Jurado 83’).
Goals: Savić own goal 53’, Baptistão 77’