It was a welcome return to winning ways for Atleti, after two La Liga draws in a row. The win put them level on points with Barcelona at the top, one point above a resurgent Real Madrid. The three way battle should continue until the last round of the season.
Atletico were full of attacking intent from the start. Turkish international Arda, having a fine season on the opposite flank to Koke, was menacing Vallecano at every opportunity. He scored two goals before half time to add to David Villa’s 8th minute opener.
Viera pulled a goal back on 40 minutes, but it was the next goal that caught the eye for all the wrong reasons. Atleti marksman Diego Costa thought that he had his first La Liga goal in over a month but replays showed that it was an own goal by Saul Niguez against the team he is on loan from.
Saul is a versatile player for one so young. He is best as an attacking midfielder, but has often been utilised as a defensive midfielder. In ability, if not exactly build, he is much like a young Yaya Toure. Last night he was used for the first time as a central defender. Vallecano were worried about the attacking brilliance of Atletico and saw their star player as a solution. It didn’t work.
Liverpool scouts were watching on. They have already agreed terms with Saul’s father, but last night’s performance will have done little to convince them to up their price and convince Atletico to sell.
Liverpool fans response to the La Liga blog exclusive on Saul has been vociferous. They doubt the ability or desire of their owners to make the transfer happen. FSG – it’s over to you.