Atlético Madrid grabbed a much-needed away win at Estadio El Alcoraz on Saturday evening, where goals from Lucas Hernández, Santiago Arias and Koke guided Diego Simeone’s side to a bounceback win over bottom side Huesca.
The first 10 minutes at foggy Alcoraz passed without incident, but the hosts issued a warning in the 12th minute when Jorge Pulido’s chilena attempt rang off the far post. José Giménez made a crucial intervention moments later with midfielder Christian Rivera heading straight for goal. Cucho Hernández had the next chance in the 16th minute, when Diego Godín lost out on an aerial duel and the 19-year-old raced into the box alone — Jan Oblak had to make a dazzling one-on-one save to keep the scores level.
Three minutes later, Ángel Correa sent Thomas Lemar through 1v1 but Roberto Santamaría made an excellent save on the Frenchman. It appeared as if Lemar thought the offside flag would come up before realizing it would not, so slow was his approach on Santamaría’s goal. That occasion marked Atlético’s first shot on target from around 60 percent possession.
On 32 minutes, Atlético got their breakthrough. In his 400th match as a rojiblanco, Koke picked out fellow canterano Lucas with a low cross, and the left back side-footed his effort into the net — his first goal as a first-team player. Lemar and Antoine Griezmann were heavily involved in the buildup, and Koke’s cross took a helpful deflection before it found its way to the World Cup winner.
Santamaría stepped up again moments into the second half as he came up with a big save from a Correa stinger. But on 52 minutes, through the unrelenting fog, Arias added his first Atlético goal to the ledger when he lashed in a gorgeous Griezmann cross with his favored right foot. The ex-PSV star’s goal also gave Atleti a rather unique distinction — Diego Simeone’s side has seen 13 different scorers in LaLiga this season.
After Arias’ goal, the visitors settled in defensively and were more willing to cede possession with a secure lead. Substitute Ezequiel Ávila forced Oblak into a good save from a header at the edge of the box, but Atleti’s defense stayed organized and goal number three was soon to come.
Lucas Hernández’s 71st minute cross resulted in a Griezmann header that smashed off the bar. Seconds later, an unmarked, on-rushing Koke slid in to hit a bouncing finish past Santamaría to accrue that third goal. Almost immediately, Simeone removed him to throw on 17-year-old academy pearl Victor Mollejo so that he could make his first-team debut. Cholo also gave a debut to Joaquín Muñoz, the 19-year-old who some rate as Atleti’s best overall prospect.
In all, the mattress makers — with just 11 fit first-team outfield players — did a good job to put Wednesday’s Copa del Rey elimination behind them and maintain their position between Barcelona (two points behind) and Real Madrid (five points ahead). They will prepare now for Getafe’s visit to the Wanda Metropolitano next Saturday.
ATM XI: Oblak; Arias, Giménez, Godín, Lucas (Montero 86’); Rodri, Thomas P, Koke (Mollejo 72’), Lemar (Joaquín 90’); Griezmann, Correa.
Goals: Lucas 31’ Arias 52’ Koke 71’
HUE XI: Santamaría; Miramón, Insua, Etxeita, Pulido; Rivera (Ávila 53’), Musto (Herrera 70’), Moi Gómez; Cucho (Gallar 61’), Ferreiro, Enric Gallego.