Atletico Madrid 4-1 Celta Vigo: Simeone's men show strength in depth to ease to win

·4-min read

A goal and an assist from Rodrigo de Paul helped Atletico Madrid record their first home win of the season in LaLiga as they beat Celta Vigo 4-1 on Saturday.

Diego Simeone's men were made to work for their victory, with Celta more than a match in most areas for the hosts in the first half, but they could not keep up in the second.

Angel Correa gave Atletico the lead in the opening 10 minutes, before De Paul's deflected effort early in the second half and a superb run and finish from Yannick Carrasco confirmed the win.

Substitute Gabriel Veiga pulled a goal back for the visitors, but an own goal from Unai Nunez ended any hopes for them.

Jan Oblak missed out for Atletico, despite playing in the dramatic midweek Champions League victory against Porto after suffering a knock at Real Sociedad last weekend.

Ivo Grbic deputised and was called into action after just a minute as a long ball was misjudged by Mario Hermoso, allowing Jorgen Strand Larsen in on goal, but the Norwegian could not beat the goalkeeper, who also had to save a Hugo Mallo header from point-blank range from a corner shortly after.

After surviving those scares, Atletico were ahead in the ninth minute after a fine one-touch move down the right as a cross-field ball from Reinildo to Nahuel Molina led to a cushioned pass to De Paul, who immediately slid the ball across to Correa to fire into the roof of the net.

The game calmed down after that, and it took until early in the second half for Atletico to double their lead as a Carrasco cross found substitute Koke, who laid the ball back to De Paul and his shot from the edge of the box deflected in off Nunez, wrong-footing the helpless Agustin Marchesin in the Celta goal.

Carrasco made it three in the 66th minute after picking the ball up on the halfway line and dribbling towards the penalty area, cutting in from the left before moving back onto his left foot and firing past Marchesin at the near post.

Celta got a goal back with 19 minutes remaining as a through ball from Iago Aspas down the right found Veiga, whose shot squirmed under Grbic, but the contest was over when Matheus Cunha raced past Nunez, before hitting a cross that deflected in off the visiting defender.

What does it mean? - Simeone shows strength in depth

With the Champions League up and running and a shortened season due to the World Cup, many teams will need to rotate often.

And rotate Simeone did as he made six changes from the win against Porto, with his starters laying the groundwork before strong replacements such as Koke, Joao Felix, Antoine Griezmann, Saul Niguez and Cunha came on to finish the job.

Atletico showed more fight in the second half with the introduction of the subs, winning 59.2 per cent of their duels compared to 48.6 in the first half.

Kondogbia impresses in the middle

Geoffrey Kondogbia often splits opinion, but on this form you can see why many rate him highly.

The former Inter and Valencia man made one key pass, recorded one assist, made more tackles than anyone on the pitch (five), gained possession more times than anyone (10), had the most touches of any Atletico player (71), won 77.8 per cent of his duels, and made the most passes on his team (58) with an accuracy of 89.7 per cent.

Aspas misses chance to emulate Villa

Celta captain Aspas scored five goals in his first four games in LaLiga this season. If he had scored at the Wanda Metropolitano, the former Liverpool man would have become only the second Spanish player to score six goals after the first five games of a season in the competition in the 21st century, after David Villa, who did so in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 campaigns.

Despite getting an assist, the 35-year-old never really looked like bothering Grbic, having three shots and failing to hit the target with any.

Key Opta facts

- Atletico scored at least four goals at home for the third time in LaLiga in 2022, just one fewer than in the previous four years combined in the competition (one in 2018, two in 2020 and one in 2021).

- Correa has now scored 47 goals for Atletico in LaLiga, 23 of them to open the scoring (48.9 per cent). The Rojiblancos have not lost any of these 23 league games in which the Argentine has scored the first goal of the match (W20 D3).

- De Paul scored and delivered an assist in the same LaLiga game for the first time in his career, after 75 games with Valencia (34) and Atletico (41) in the competition.

- Aspas has been involved in 30 goals for Celta in LaLiga since the start of the 2021-22 season (23 goals, seven assists), only two players have recorded more in the competition since the start of last season: Karim Benzema (43) and Vinicius Junior (31).

What’s next?

Atletico travel to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Tuesday before hosting Real Madrid in the league next Sunday. Celta Vigo are away again next Saturday as they visit Valencia.