An inspired Antoine Griezmann bagged his first hat trick in LaLiga for nearly six years as Atlético Madrid on Saturday emerged from the international break with a thumping 3-0 win at 10-man Celta Vigo.
Griezmann kicked off the scoring by rolling in a penalty just before half an hour had been played, and the Frenchman doubled the advantage four minutes after the hour with a right-footed finish that caught everyone by surprise. Griezmann then completed the scoring on 70 minutes with a volley from substitute Nahuel Molina’s cross — bringing him to seven goals on the league season, and fewer than 10 strikes away from becoming Atlético’s all-time top scorer.
Griezmann’s trio of goals
Atlético (7-1-1, 22 points) started slowly against a Celta side (1-3-6, 6 points) desperate to escape the relegation zone and record its first home win of the 2023/24 season. Diego Simeone had warned pre-game that Celta would be dangerous in transition, with talisman Iago Aspas keen to hold up play and send runners to attack space in behind Atleti’s older, slower defenders.
Celta were on top — if not well on top — to begin the game. Jan Oblak needed to make a save on shifty forward Jørgen Strand Larsen in the opening minutes, while center-back Unai Núñez had a half-chance from a set piece and Óscar Mingueza missed from close to the penalty spot. Aspas was roaming around, directing all the traffic — and it seemed like a matter of time until the hosts would go ahead. The expected goal tally in the first 28 minutes read Celta 0.36, Atlético 0.04.
But as has been known to happen, Mario Hermoso created just enough chaos to provoke a decisive red card and the game’s opening goal. Hermoso — effectively playing as Koke’s partner in a double pivot — unleashed a wicked cross into the penalty area that goalkeeper Iván Villar couldn’t corral. Villar took out Álvaro Morata to prevent a tap-in, and he was instantly shown a red card for making no effort to play the ball.
Griezmann stepped up for the ensuing penalty and sent substitute Vicente Guaita the wrong way, converting from 12 yards for the second time in as many games and taking the wind out of Celta’s sails.
Rafa Benítez’s men weren’t quite done yet — the game might have turned significantly had winger Jonathan Bamba not smashed a long-range effort off the crossbar five minutes before the hour. But instead, it proved to be a sliding doors moment for the hosts, already down to 10 and looking heavy in the legs.
Griezmann produced a sensational individual effort — carrying the ball from his own half into the opposing penalty area — to score Atlético’s second. To end the sequence, Griezmann was looking to send in a low cross to his left for Morata, and Guaita seemed to be expecting this too — but he was caught completely flat-footed. Griezmann appeared to slip, and the right-footed cross meant for Morata ended up floating into an open net.
Not long after, Griezmann completed the scoring with a volley that was too hot to handle for Guaita. At the edge of the penalty area, Morata back-heeled the ball to Molina, who carried on his run and drew four defenders to him — meaning his cut-back for Griezmann found the Frenchman alone from all of 10 yards out.
Griezmann now has 165 goals as an Atlético player — and according to the club’s records, he is nine goals away from surpassing Luis Aragonés as its all-time top scorer. Most sources have Aragonés’s final goal tally listed at 172, but Atleti on Saturday tweeted that the forward and former Spain manager scored 173 times for the club.
1️⃣ Luis Aragonés: 173— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) October 21, 2023
2️⃣ Adrián Escudero: 169
3️⃣ Antoine Griezmann: 165↑
¡@AntoGriezmann, a ritmo de récord!
Samuel Lino to undergo testing on his right knee
The only bad news on the night for Atlético was left wing-back Samuel Lino’s exit at halftime. Lino was injured in a knee-on-knee collision late in the first half and did not come out for the second, the club initially indicating that the 23-year-old had “molestias” — pain — in his right knee.
Marca’s David Medina reported late Saturday night that Lino will undergo tests on Sunday to determine the severity of his injury. Obviously, Atlético are hoping it’s nothing more than a precaution and that Lino’s pain subsides during the week. Medina writes that in any case, it’s unlikely Lino — already a key player for Simeone — will make the trip to Glasgow for Wednesday’s Champions League group stage contest against Celtic.
CEL XI: Villar (red card 25’); Kevin (Guaita 28’), Starfelt, Núñez, Manu Sánchez; Mingueza, Beltrán (Sotelo 61’), de la Torre (Dotor 81’); Aspas (Douvikas 61’), Bamba, Strand Larsen (Rodriguez 81’).
ATM XI: Oblak; Azpilicueta, Witsel, Hermoso; Llorente (de Paul 57’), Barrios (Molina 46’), Koke, Saúl (Correa 57’), Lino (Riquelme 46’); Griezmann (Söyüncü 76’), Morata.
Goals Griezmann 29’ (pen) 64’ 70’