Angel Correa bagged a brace as Atletico Madrid registered a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano to get back into the top four.

Atletico Madrid kick-started 2022 with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday. The three points help them return to the top four and bridge the gap to both Sevilla and Real Betis, who dropped points on the same day.

It was a clinical display from the defending champions, who were by far the better of the two sides despite missing some key players, including Koke. They created at least three big chances within the first fifteen minutes, capitalising on a host of errors made by Rayo Vallecano’s defenders.

But they were unable to find the target until the 26th minute when Angel Correa made full use of a lucky opportunity inside the box. Atletico Madrid piled on the pressure on Rayo throughout the first half, although a wasteful performance in front of goal meant that they had to settle for a 1-0 lead at half-time.

It was a similar story after the restart, as Los Colchoneros continued to create chances in the final third. Ultimately, it was Correa who found the second goal, as he latched on to a cross from Renan Lodi in the 53rd minute. The hosts had the chance to further extend their lead late on, only to be denied by Luca Zidane in goal. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Atletico Madrid players in their resounding win over Rayo Vallecano this weekend.

Jan Oblak: 6/10

It was a quiet day at the office for Jan Oblak as Rayo Vallecano struggled to create anything meaningful going forward. They uncharacteristically lacked cohesion going forward, failing to muster even a single shot on goal. It led to an easy clean sheet for the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper – his first in eight matches.

Kieran Trippier: 7/10

Despite being subjected to a potential return to Premier League, Kieran Trippier did well to focus on his game instead. Operating at right-back, he was heavily involved in the proceedings, mustering a total of 94 touches. His combination play with Yannick Carrasco was rather impressive, while the Englishman also offered security at the back by keeping Kevin Rodrigues in check.

Jose Maria Gimenez: 7/10

Jose Maria Gimenez deserves praise for his solid defensive display at the heart of the Atletico Madrid backline. The Uruguayan international used his aggression, leadership and the imposing frame to deny goalscoring opportunity for the Rayo Vallecano attackers.

Mario Hermoso: 7/10

With Stefan Savic unavailable and Diego Simeone not preferring Felipe, Mario Hermoso was asked to play in a traditional centre-back role. The former Real Madrid starlet settled into his new role quite well, offering good defensive cover for Gimenez while his positional sense was crucial in helping Atletico keep the lid off Sergi Guardiola and Co.

Renan Lodi: 7.5/10

Renan Lodi had an excellent game at left-back. He was solid defensively, offered good security in possession and made marauding runs into the final third whenever it was required. Most importantly, the Brazilian produced a superb cross to feed Angel Correa for his second goal of the night, one that was enough to kill the game.

Geoffrey Kondogbia: 7.5/10

Geoffrey Kondogbia was a vital cog in the Atletico Madrid midfield in the absence of Koke. The Frenchman did not disappoint either, showcasing his ability to control the game to help keep his side on top. The midfielder additionally offered flair in possession by making driving runs into the final third whenever it was required.

Kondogbia was essentially the hub of the Atletico Madrid setup, with the former Inter Milan star making an impression even in defence by making some excellent tackles.

Rodrigo De Paul: 7/10

Rodrigo De Paul was another player that managed to impress on the night against Rayo Vallecano. The Argentine international offered quality in the build-up play, particularly with his combination play with the wide players. It helped Atletico Madrid remain on top of Rayo throughout most part of the proceedings.

Thomas Lemar: 7/10

Thomas Lemar had to operate in a more attacking role than usual, which made sense given Atleti’s long list of absentees. The former AS Monaco man did not disappoint either, moving the ball well and occasionally linking up with Lodi, including the moment that led to Correa’s second goal of the night.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco: 7.5/10

Yannick Carrasco was asked to operate on the right-hand channel in the absence of Marcos Llorente. The Belgian’s ability to dribble past opposition defenders at ease proved to be handy for his team, with the attacker crucially involved in the chance that led to Correa’s opener. The winger also made an impression with his willingness to test the opposition ‘keeper.

Angel Correa: 8/10

Angel Correa was the undisputed Man of the Match in Atletico Madrid’s win over Rayo Vallecano. The Argentine was sharp in the final third, often alert to the situations around him. It paid off well, as the attacker netted the all-important opener in the first half by making the most of the lucky break. He was also on hand to convert Lodi’s cross to score his second goal of the game shortly after the restart.

Aside from his goals, Correa made an impression with his work ethic in the final third. He was always an attacking outlet inside the box and even in the build-up, thus helping Los Colchoneros replace the missing offensive duo of Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix.

Luis Suarez: 6/10

It was not the best of performances from Luis Suarez. The striker looked off the pace, failing to make full use of the chances that came in his way. He did offer an excellent work rate, but his booking early on in the proceedings means he is set to miss the next game.

SUBSTITUTES

Matheus Cunha: 6/10

Matheus Cunha came on for Suarez during the final phase of the game. The Brazilian did not make much of an impact but will be asked to replace Suarez in the next match.

Felipe: N/A

A late replacement for Carrasco. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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