Joao Felix impressed while Koke scored the only goal of the game as Atletico Madrid defeated Rayo Vallecano 1-0 at Estadio de Vallecas on Saturday night.
Atletico Madrid could have gone ahead just two minutes in through Antoine Griezmann, but his effort was tipped away by Stole Dimitrievski in the Rayo Vallecano goal. Joao Felix caused problems for the hosts with his movement and link-up and created a good chance for Griezmann, who scuffed his effort when he should have scored.
There were no more goalscoring chances created in the first period as the teams went into the half-time break on level terms. Just four minutes after the restart, though, Los Rojiblancos were in the lead as Joao Felix was involved again, playing his captain Koke in with a lovely pass. The Spaniard made no mistake.
Griezmann failed to take another chance not long after the first goal, while at the other end, Jan Oblak produced a good save to deny Mario Suarez. As the game drifted along, Randy Nteka had the best chance to level things up for Vallecano, but he sent his effort wide. A red card to substitute Angel Correa in the 85th minute offered a glimmer of hope to the home team, but Atleti held on for a narrow win.
The result meant that Diego Simeone’s men moved up to the third spot in the La Liga standings, although they could lose it to Barcelona if the Catalans defeat Real Madrid in the blockbuster El Clasico on Sunday night.
Atletico Madrid Player Ratings
Jan Oblak: 6.5/10
The Slovenian shot-stopper had a fairly easy outing as he was not called into action all that much. But he did have to stay alert to collect a few dangerous-looking crosses and he made a crucial save to deny Suarez around the hour-mark.
Jose Maria Gimenez: 6/10
The Atletico Madrid centre-half was strong in his tackles and assertive in his defending against a gamely Rayo Vallecano outfit, ensuring that they never got a clear sight at goal. Gimenez also played some good forward passes.
Stefan Savic: 6/10
The 31-year-old defender stayed tight and compact at the back, shutting down any openings for the home team. Unlike Gimenez, though, he opted to keep things simple with the ball at his feet.
Reinildo Mandava: 6/10
Another solid outing in defence for the January signing, who has made a big difference since his arrival. Reinildo kept things quiet on his side of the pitch and stayed alert throughout to ensure that Rayo Vallecano did not have much joy in the final third.
Marcos Llorente: 6/10
Slotting in at right wing-back again, the former Real Madrid man did not offer much in the way of attacking contribution. However, he did his bit off the ball, keeping things tight against a tricky opponent in Fran Garcia.
Rodrigo De Paul: 7/10
It was an influential display from the Argentine midfielder, who constantly tried to pick out Griezmann and Felix with his forward passes. He even created a few goalscoring chances on the night. De Paul finished with a game-high four key passes.
📊| Koke becomes ONE of the FIVE players who have scored in each of the last 12 seasons in LaLiga:
• Karim Benzema
• Raul Garcia
• Iker Muniain
• Antoine Griezmann
Capi ❤️🤍 pic.twitter.com/t5HIDvwvjU
— Atletico Universe (@atletiuniverse) March 19, 2022
The match-winner for Atletico Madrid on the night, Koke executed a perfect give-and-go with Joao Felix before firing the ball into the back of the net to score the only goal of the game. He also created a chance for Griezmann early in the game and ended with two key passes.
Hector Herrera: 6/10
Not the most eye-catching player on the field, but Hector Herrera got his job done. The Mexican international was always looking to press the opposition, while he kept things neat and tidy with the ball at his feet.
Renan Lodi: 6/10
Not at his fluent best going forward as an early yellow card held him back, while his passing was rather lackadaisical. But Lodi worked hard in the defensive phases, helping Reinildo keep Vallecano at bay on his flank.
Antoine Griezmann: 6/10
The Frenchman had two decent opportunities in the first half but failed to take them, while wasting another chance after the break. Despite the misses, Griezmann’s off-the-ball movement helped create space for others in the final third, while his work rate stood out again.
Joao Felix: 7.5/10
João Félix Vs Rayo
✅2 key passes
✅4/8 dribbles completed
✅7/13 ground duels won
✅3/7 aerial duels won
✅3 fouls provoked
Is he having a transformation into Cholismo?🤔 pic.twitter.com/4YwRVMs2v1
— FutureCentro – Players Of The Future (@FutureCentro) March 19, 2022
The player who looked the most likely to make things happen on the night, Joao Felix, was involved in almost everything good that Atletico Madrid created in the final third. The Portuguese starlet set Griezmann up for a chance and came close to scoring himself in the first period. He then produced a moment of genuine quality to set Koke up for the goal. Joao Felix finished the game with four dribbles completed and two key passes.
Geoffrey Kondogbia: 6/10
He came on for Renan Lodi just past the hour-mark. Kondogbia added a sense of physicality and aggression in midfield.
Luis Suarez: 5/10
The veteran striker replaced Felix in the 64th minute but did little of note as Atletico focused on protecting their lead.
Angel Correa: 3/10
Sent on in place of Herrera in the 64th minute, Correa lasted on the pitch for less than 20 minutes as he was shown a direct red card for shoving an opponent in reaction to a foul.
Late substitute for Griezmann.
Mario Hermoso: N/A
Stoppage-time substitute for Koke.