The unlucky own goal of Toni Lato 11 minutes from time gave Atletico Madrid on Saturday a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Valencia.
After Jaume Domenech had stood tall in the Valencia goal prior to the interval, Atleti dominated throughout and failed to generate chances throughout the second half.
After a goalless Champions League draw against Lokomotiv Moscow last week’s win over Barcelona – the first in LaLiga under Diego Simeone’s tenure – the visitors looked likely to endure more frustration.
However, to eventually defeat Domenech and send Atleti level on points with Real Sociedad at the summit, substitute Yannick Carrasco’s low cross bounced off Lato’s knee and into the net.
At either end, the highlights of the first half were excellent stretching saves, Valencia captain Domenech punching the air with delight after getting down to his right to expertly repel the deflected 13th-minute drive of Thomas Lemar.
26 – @atletienglish have not lost any of their last 26 @LaLigaEN games with Koke Resurrección (W17 D9), winning the last six, since a 1-0 defeat against Barcelona in December 1, 2019. Captain. pic.twitter.com/8GCP4ww76G
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 28, 2020
Jan Oblak had to be alert – making his 200th LaLiga outing – to touch Uros Racic’s clumsy half-volley – evidently a mishit cross – on the post, before Lemar tested Domenech again, parrying a precise effort away from the same corner as his previous try.
After the restart, Atleti dominated, hogging more than 70 percent of the possession until late in proceedings despite facing just a single shot, while they challenged barely and needed a fortunate bounce to grab the points.
Carrasco advanced down the left of Atleti and sent in a low shot that evaded Domenech, as well as two tussling players on either foot, inadvertently catching Lato as the ball bounced from his leg and in.
And what is next?
As Atletico play Bayern, midweek brings a return to Champions League play. On Monday, Valencia will not play again until one week – at Eibar.