ATLÉTICO 5 - RAYO VALLECANO 0
Diego Costa and Arda make Rayo visit child’s play for Atleti
Rayo were served a thumping at the Calderón by an Atlético side who are going from strength to strength.
True to form, Rayo began their visit to the Calderón as they usually do – by employing a prudent, short-passing game. It seems they didn’t take too much notice of what happened to pass-and-move connoisseurs Barcelona during the Spanish Supercup first leg at the same venue last week. The Catalans were harried off the ball at every opportunity, forcing them to adopt long ball tactics – the only escape route open to them under the incessant pressure from the hosts. This evening, Cholo’s charges laid on spectacle while Rayo left the Manzanares shell shocked. And tonight’s exhibition was a foretaste of what we can expect to see over the new season – the taste of success had whetted Atleti’s appetite. They display ambition, impetus and organization. Let’s hope it lasts...
Simeone is lucky to have in his ranks, two players who excel in the pursuit of excellence – Arda Turn and Diego Costa, the brains and brawn of his team. The first warning came early on, Arda finished off a superb individual move from the Brazilian only for his goal-bound header to be cleared by Tito. It just was a question of time before the visitors caved in. On 17 minutes, Gabi swung in a corner, (which Larrivey defended like a striker), and Raúl García stooped low to nod Atlético in front. It was a difficult goal to score, and prompted an authentic barrage of attempts on Cobeño’s goal.
Three minutes later, Arda, who never lets a gift-wrapped opportunity on the by-line go amiss, teed up Diego Costa to stroke in number two. His ex-Rayo team mates must owe him something because it was incomprehensible that they left him completely alone to score at leisure.
Then, on 35 minutes, Miranda won the ball back in the centre of the park to kick-start a move which had the Rojiblanco stamp all over it - a lightning counter-attack administered with pinpoint precision. First, there was the exquisite control from Diego Costa, then a subtle touch to send Arda scampering towards goal, the Turk finished off the move by leaving Cobeño sat on the floor like a child at the kindergarten before side-footing into an empty net.
With the game effectively over, Atleti changed their strategy. Their obsession was helping Villa to get his name on the score sheet before the final whistle. But it was Tiago who made it 4-0, connecting with an inviting Arda cross to head inside the near post. Simeone made changes, bringing on Koke, Adrián and Leo Baptistao to let Gabi, Diego Costa and Arda recharge their batteries for next week’s return at Camp Nou. All three left the pitch to a rapturous ovation from the stands. In the end it was Raúl García who rounded off the evening’s scoring, Villa will have to wait to open his league account but it will come, on another day.