LA LIGA | CELTA 2-0 ATLETI
On-fire Celta and poor refereeing too much for Atleti
Nolito and Orellana scored and put on a fine display. Referee Martínez missed a handball in the run-up to the penalty.
Some Sundays it’s best to stay in bed. For Atleti, today was one of those cold, dark days in which the hangover, whether from a party or a derby, means you can’t do anything right. And if your own inabilities weren’t enough, it turns out you have enemies around every corner. The first, and most formidable: Celta, who danced around and on top of the current Champions with Nolito, Orellana and Krohn-Dehli transformed into Roy of the Rovers, Paul Diamond and Tom Baker in flesh and blood. All sensational. But when it looked like the hosts, as blunt as ever up front, were giving Atleti a chance, the referee appeared to do justice in his own style. He decided not to give a clear handball committed by Augusto, and just like Jordi Alba in the Copa del Rey, from the foul not given came a penalty against Atleti. Nolito had no mercy and it was all plain sailing for a fine Celta from then on.
Without Arda and Koke, Atleti were like a magician’s assistant: cut in half with a look of surprise on their faces. Up front, Mandzukic, Torres and Griezmann were uncoordinated, uncomfortable, clumsy and painful to watch for Atleti fans. Far behind them, Tiago and Gabi were bogged down in a competition to see who could commit the worst mistake; a competition that, surprisingly, Mario Suárez ended up winning, having come on for the Portuguese player after half an hour and then managing to make what looked like being a splendid disaster even worse. Celta, meanwhile stole the ball in the opposition half, played with precision and enjoyed Nolito’s dribbling, the controlled velocity of Orellana and the situational awareness of Krohn-Dehli. It was as if last week’s derby was being replayed, but with Atleti wearing light blue.
That it remained 0-0 at half time would have been a miracle, except for the fact this was Celta, without doubt the team in La Liga who take the least from their own good play. Up to the penalty spot they were all Maradona. After that they were possessed by the spirit of a nun. A couple of providential appearances by Siqueira and Godín and the natural tendency of the attackers to shoot wide, allowed Moyá to go off to the dressing room with a peculiar sensation: suffering from tachycardia, but without having made a save.
Simeone corrected his initial mistake, bringing off the utterly lost Torres and looking for an Arda replacement in Cani. For a few minutes it seemed to work and the game was more even. Griezmann even appeared, but wasted a clear chance by looking for Mandzukic when he had Sergio open.
And when Atleti were thinking the storm had blown itself out, the referee showed up to help Celta get what they deserved, but hadn’t managed to grab themselves: a goal. Augusto stole the ball in the midfield with his arm. The referee saw it, but decided it wasn’t deliberate. Strange, more than anything, because the Celta player didn’t even try to hide the movement of his arm. In the following attack, Nolito danced like a swan and Mario ran him over like a hippo. Silly penalty and one of course converted by Nolito himself.
Right after Sergio stopped a leveller from Saúl and Larrivey missed the chance to kill the game off there and then shooting at an open goal, but sending the ball the wrong way. Atleti finally woke up and could have equalised, but Sergio and the post frustrated Griezmann and Jonny’s kamikaze face did the same to Mandzukic. Fed up of shocks, Orellana put an end to the suspense in the 71st minute. There was still time for the referee to miss a clear penalty by Fontás on Siqueira, but the day had already gone horribly wrong for Atleti. Beaten and seven points off the leader. Some Sundays you’re better off staying in bed.