Atletico Madrid won their first La Liga game in their last three as they battled to a 1-0 victory away to Alaves on Sunday afternoon. Under the pouring rain in the Basque country, a ramshackle Atleti team with one eye on Thursday’s Europa League semifinal second leg struggled to click at first but dominated after the break and fully deserved their three points.
Fernando Torres missed a penalty before substitute Kevin Gameiro buried another shortly after as Torres’ shot was handled in the box. Three points, a clean sheet and now all attention turns to midweek.
The side avoided an unwanted record of not scoring in three consecutive La Liga games for the first time under Diego Simeone. No injuries to key men either.
Torres continues to show just why Simeone is happy for him to leave this summer with a missed penalty.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Simeone recovered from his midweek meltdown and wisely rested some important players. Furthermore, his substitutions eventually proved the difference between the two sides.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Axel Werner, 7 — Given a rare chance with Jan Oblak rested for the return leg with Arsenal, the Argentine showed he can be relied upon when needed with a spectacular save to deny John Guidetti.
DF Thomas Partey, 6 — Showed his versatility by starting off at full-back before slotting into the midfield. Solid if unspectacular in both roles, however he was far too keen to shoot from distance and failed to trouble the keeper.
DF Stefan Savic, 6 — Had very little to do all afternoon as Alaves’ attacking intent was limited. Almost cost the side as he misjudged a cross and the subsequent shot clipped the post late on, however won a couple of decent headers after that.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 8 — Given a rare opportunity to start in his natural position and looked strong, though another referee might have awarded a penalty against him. The France defender’s pace was a particularly useful asset against Munir on the break before he went on to finish the game at left-back.
DF Sime Vrsaljko, 6 — Managed to last more than nine minutes, which was nice! Looked to get forward but his final ball was lacking. Gave away the late free-kick from which Angel Correa was ultimately sent off.
MF Koke, 6 — Looked leggy after his midweek exertions. Used the ball well but the final product was poor. Unsurprisingly, he one of those key players subbed off.
MF Gabi, 7 — Showed his nous with a brilliant tactical foul as Munir broke late on. Shielded the back four well and recycled possession efficiently.
MF Vitolo, 8 — Best player on the park. Saw a great effort hit the post, won the first penalty and saw a header well saved in a dominant second-half display.
MF Angel Correa, 4 — Managed to talk himself into a red card with a game seconds from ending, which means a suspension. Describing that as “idiotic” is kind.
FW Fernando Torres, 4 — His farewell tour continues to underwhelm. Saw a weak penalty saved as the side look to give him every chance to score in his last few outings for the club. It was his shot that was handled for the second spot kick, but a generally underwhelming performance… again.
FW Diego Costa, 6 — Looked very much like a man who has not played for a while, but also one who was determined not to risk anything that might put his place in the side for Thursday in jeopardy.
FW Kevin Gameiro (for Costa), 6 — Should have taken the first penalty and was not letting Torres anywhere near the second, which he finished with aplomb.
DF Diego Godin (for Koke), 6 — Came on, was paired next to Savic and looked nowhere near as good as he was in midweek.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.