Jan Oblak came up clutch while Joao Felix impressed as Atletico Madrid beat Villarreal 2-0 to bounce back to winning ways in La Liga.
Although Villarreal started out as the brighter team at El Madrigal, it was Atletico Madrid who broke the deadlock as the hosts’ defender, Alfonso Pedraza diverted the ball into his own net after Stefan Savic’s headed effort had been saved by Sergio Asenjo. Villarreal came close to equalising ten minutes later but Gerard Moreno’s effort was stopped on the line.
Atletico Madrid made a bright start to the second period with both Luis Suarez and Angel Correa drawing saves from Asenjo. With the pressure being sustained, the second goal finally came in the 69th minute when substitute Joao Felix, who fired in a half-volley back into the net after Pau Torres’ attempted clearance fell straight to him.
Villarreal, though, continued to push in search of a goal as substitute Alex Baena struck the woodwork before being denied by a brilliant stop from Jan Oblak as Diego Simeone’s men held on for a much-needed victory to end their recent losing streak and open up a five-point lead at the top over Barcelona in second place.
And, here’s how we rated the performances of the Atleti stars on the night at Estadio de la Ceramica.
Jan Oblak: 8/10
— Fahad (@AnaaHnna) February 28, 2021
Had to make a couple of routine stops in the first half before stopping Moreno close to half-time. Made a few more important stops to deny the likes of Carlos Bacca, Baena and Dani Parejo after the break, with the one to stop Baena particularly standing out. Clutch.
Stefan Savic: 7/10
Fairly solid at the back as he made five clearances and won each of his four aerial duels to cut out Villarreal’s crosses. Also played a role in the opening goal for his team as it was his header that was saved by Asenjo before the ball rebounded into the net off of Pedraza.
Booked for foul on Chukwueze in the first half but kept his discipline for the rest of the game. Stayed alert to any and all threat the hosts conjured up and swept up everything that came his way, as the Brazilian made a game-high eight clearances and three interceptions. Reliable.
Mario Hermoso: 6.5/10
Decent enough on the left side of the three-man defensive system but there were occasions when the likes of Chukwueze and Manu Trigueros were able to run past him. Not as accurate with his passing as well, as he lost possession 11 times on the night.
Sime Vrsaljko: 6/10
Started at right wing-back which allowed Marcos Llorente to move into central midfield. Had a few positive moments and delivered the cross in the buildup to Felix’s goal. But, in general, the end product was lacking while he also gave away the ball 16 times.
Marcos Llorente: 7/10
There was a moment in that half not long before the goal wheee directly below us Marcos Llórente kept alive a move that was impossible to keep alive. He’s an amazing athlete.
— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) February 28, 2021
An all-action performance from the Spaniard who looked to drive the team forward when on the ball and worked his socks off during the defensive phase. Linked up well with Koke and Vrsaljko to create a chance for Saul Niguez and was involved in another flowing move involving Suarez which almost led to a chance.
Completed three dribbles and made a key pass while his defensive numbers read seven tackles won, along with two clearances and an interception.
Protected the defence well, making a couple of interceptions and four clearances. Could have been more accurate with his distribution. But did play in a couple of key passes, creating chances for Saul and Correa.
Thomas Lemar: 6/10
Played in the cross from the right side in the buildup to the opening goal. Worked hard off the ball. Booked on the verge of half-time for elbowing Etienne Capoue and was replaced by Joao Felix after the restart.
Saul Niguez: 6.5/10
Had his task cut out defensively with Chukwueze causing problems on his side. Wasn’t always able to stop the young winger but did manage to make six tackles and three interceptions. The Spaniard did not offer much in the attacking side of things but did have a shot blocked in the first half.
Angel Correa: 6.5/10
Even though he wasn’t able to score or assist a goal, there were positives on display as he was lively and hardworking at the top for the league leaders trying to press and close down the Villarreal defenders with urgency. Forced Asenjo into a save in the second half.
Luis Suarez: 6.5/10
Like Correa, the veteran striker was also an active threat at the top with the hosts’ defence not always comfortable dealing with him. Was denied a goal in the second half by a fine save from Asenjo.
Joao Felix: 7/10
The ball breaks to Joao Felix, and his technique is perfect! 🔥
A great finish to double Atleti's lead 🔴⚪ pic.twitter.com/1bxqJyvKXi
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) February 28, 2021
On for Lemar at half-time. Having put in a disappointing display in midweek against Chelsea in Europe, the Portuguese sensation redeemed himself, scoring a fine goal to help his team bounce back to winning ways.
Geoffrey Kondogbia: N/A
Replaced Suarez in the 76th minute. Not involved a great deal.
Lucas Torreira: N/A
Brought on for Correa in the 83rd minute as Simeone sought to shut up shop.