Joao Felix was the star of the show as Atletico Madrid came back from a goal behind to beat Valencia 3-1 and extend their lead at the top of the La Liga table.
Valencia were off to a flying start at the Wanda Metropolitano as Uros Racic handed them a lead just eleven minutes into the game with a sensational hit from long-range that caught Jan Oblak off guard. But Atletico Madrid were back on level terms just ten minutes later through Joao Felix.
The visitors pressed the league leaders hard and threatened on the counter, while Atletico themselves carved out a few half-chances but weren’t able to add to the scoreline before the break. Nine minutes into the second half, however, Diego Simeone’s men went in front as Felix capitalised on some lax defending to tee up Luis Suarez who made no mistake.
It was all Atletico Madrid from that point on as Valencia struggled to get a foothold in the game and the third goal eventually came through substitute Angel Correa, who tapped in after some fine work by Marcos Llorente. The win meant that Los Rojiblancos maintain their seven-point lead over Real Madrid at the top with a game in hand.
Here’s how we rated the performances of both sets of players on Sunday night at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Jan Oblak: 6/10
Absolutely no chance to stop Racic’s worldie early in the game. Hardly called into action thereafter, with Valencia not posing a great deal of attacking threat. Did make a couple of regulation stops.
Stefan Savic: 7/10
Went about his defensive work in a solid manner, winning three aerial duels and two tackles while also making three interceptions. Calm and composed when in possession, completing 88% of his passes, including one key pass.
Jose Maria Gimenez: 7/10
Much like his defensive partner, the Uruguayan international was steady and assured at the back, hardly giving an inch to compatriot Maxi Gomez. Finished with a game-high six clearances and tested Jaume Domenech with a header at the other end early in the game.
Mario Hermoso: 7/10
Back into the lineup having recovered from his injury, the Spaniard looked sharp on his return on the left-side of Atleti’s three-man defensive unit. Pushed forward when on the ball and started the move leading to Suarez’s goal in the second period minutes after he had headed over from a decent position. Made two interceptions and a clearance, while completing two dribbles as well.
Sime Vrsaljko: 5/10
Continuing as the right wing-back in Kieran Trippier’s absence, the Croat hardly looked convincing going forward or defending. Had some problems dealing with Jose Gaya and Manu Vallejo and was booked for lashing out at the latter in the first period. Had to be taken off at half-time due to an injury.
Marcos Llorente: 7/10
An all-action display in the middle of the park from the midfielder, who worked hard off the ball to force turnovers, making two interceptions and looked to push forward when in possession. One such forward run in the second half led to him setting up the third goal for Correa. Prior to that, he had a chance to score himself but shot over.
Back into the lineup, the Atletico Madrid captain sat deep and help dictate play as he completed 90% (57 of 63) passes that included a couple of key passes as well. May not always stand out, but there is no denying his underlying impact and influence on the proceedings.
Thomas Lemar: 7.5/10
Has grown leaps and bounds after a difficult year or so when it looked like he did not have a future at Atletico Madrid. Got the assist for Felix’s equalising goal with a fine delivery from the corner flag and could have won a penalty close to half-time. Created a chance for Correa in the second half as he finished with two key passes.
But, what was impressive was how hard the Frenchman worked off the ball, as he completed two tackles, two interceptions made four recoveries and won five of his seven duels. Growing in stature.
Yannick Carrasco: 6.5/10
A lively presence on the left as he pushed forward and caused problems to Thierry Correia. Shifted to the right after Vrsaljko’s injury and did more of the same. Linked up well with the likes of Lemar and Felix, made three dribbles and a key pass while helping out defensively as well.
Joao Felix: 8/10
Brought Atletico Madrid back on level terms with a good strike at the back post. Combined well with Suarez in and around the Valencia box, laying the assist for the Uruguayan’s goal following a good run on the left, minutes after he had created a chance for him that was blocked off. Made two key passes, completed two dribbles in what was a bright performance.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) January 24, 2021
Luis Suarez: 7/10
The Player to Watch in our match preview, the Uruguayan was not involved a great deal in the early periods but grew into the game with time. Had an effort blocked early in the second period before putting Atletico Madrid in front with a peach of a finish from a tight angle. Has now scored 12 La Liga goals for his new club.
Renan Lodi: 6/10
Replaced the injured Vrsaljko at half-time and slotted in as the left wing-back, with Carrasco moving to the right. Assured defensively as he made a couple of important clearances.
Angel Correa: 7/10
Came on for Felix a little after the hour mark. Dallied on the ball a bit too much after being set up by Lemar leading to the chance getting wasted. Made no such mistake soon after when Llorente played him in, to score the hosts’ third goal of the game. Came close to scoring a second late on.
Geoffrey Kondogbia: N/A
Replaced Llorente to make a 15-minute cameo against his former employers. Shored things up in the middle to help Atletico Madrid protect the lead.
Lucas Torreira: N/A
Late substitute for Lemar.
Jaume Domenech: 6/10
Made a good save from Gimenez’s effort early in the game, but could not keep Felix out even though he got his hand to the ball. Not a lot he could have done to deny Suarez and Correa, but did manage to make another good stop from the latter’s effort late on.
Thierry Correia: 5/10
Not the best of the nights for the Valencia right-back who lost his man, Felix, leading to the opening goal and was beaten by the Portuguese in the lead-up to the second goal. Did push forward and make a couple of key passes, but was guilty of giving away possession cheaply. Made an important block to deny a late goal for Carrasco and picked up an injury in doing so.
Gabriel Paulista: 6/10
The former Arsenal centre-half, who recently signed a new contract with Los Che, was not directly at fault for any of the goals and did generally well to keep things in check, apart from one poor pass that led to a chance for Llorente. Could have done better with a late chance from a corner, though.
Mouctar Diakhaby: 6/10
Like Gabriel, Diakhaby, too, defended fairly well in the time he was on the pitch, making a tackle, an interception and two clearances while winning three aerial duels. However, he had to be withdrawn early in the second half with an injury.
Jose Gaya: 6.5/10
The Spanish left-back, who has recently been linked with Barcelona, got the assist for the opening goal with a simple, squared pass to Racic. Afforded space to push forward on the left side, but was not always able to make the most of it. Lost the ball leading to a late chance to Correa.
Yunus Musah: 5/10
Stepping into the side in place of the absent Daniel Wass, the youngster hardly made an impact, apart from completing a couple of take-ons and one good-looking cross. Completed just 20 passes despite playing 80 minutes and did not pose any sort of danger to the Atletico Madrid goal. Needed to do better to help out Correia in the defensive side of things.
Carlos Soler: 6/10
A quiet game for the Valencia talisman, who could not influence the proceedings as much as he would have liked despite completing a couple of key passes. Did his bit defensively, making two interceptions and four clearances, but could not help unlock the Atletico defence at the other end.
Uros Racic: 7/10
If you’re going to beat Jan Oblak from 30 yards then it’s going to have to be something like this:
Take a bow, Valencia’s Uroš Račićpic.twitter.com/zgjhWxsQqI
— Caño Football (@CanoFootball) January 24, 2021
Was playing through some discomfort but did not let that bog him down. Opened the scoring for Valencia with a wondrous curling effort from 30 yards out that left Oblak with no chance whatsoever. Continued to graft in the middle as he won two aerial duels and made a couple of interceptions, but could not help his team stamp their authority in the second half.
Denis Cheryshev: 5/10
Much like Musah on the opposite flank, the former Real Madrid man hardly provided any sort of cutting edge from the wide areas for Valencia. Made just 27 touches and completed 11 passes on the field before making way for Goncalo Guedes after the hour mark.
Maxi Gomez: 5/10
Provided a strong physical presence at the top, as he won six of his seven offensive aerial duels, but could not really muster up any sort of threat to trouble the Atletico Madrid backline. Had just one shot all game which did not trouble Oblak.
Maxi Gómez in action for Valencia today.
He was a brilliant outlet in the first half, winning many duels to get his team up the field. However, as has been the case ever since his arrival, he has lacked any kind of service from his teammates.
It's incredibly frustrating. pic.twitter.com/7xom6EiIZv
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) January 24, 2021
Manu Vallejo: 5.5/10
Caused some problems early on with his movement in the left-hand channel and forced a save from Oblak. Failed to maintain the same levels, though and drifted out of the game with time.
Hugo Guillamon: 5/10
On for Diakhaby two minutes into the second half. Mostly assured but could not stop Atletico from scoring twice in the second half.
Goncalo Guedes: 5/10
Replaced Cheryshev just before the hour mark. Hardly had any impact on the proceedings after coming on.
Sent on for Musah in the 79th minute.
Kevin Gameiro: N/A
Replaced Vallejo in the 79th minute. Not enough time to make an impact.
Koba Koindredi: N/A
On for Racic with ten minutes left. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.