MADRID – Argentina’s Angel Correa salvaged a scoreless tie to Atletico Madrid’s advantage on Sunday, downing visiting Valencia 1-0.
Atletico, playing rather morbid soccer before almost 50,000 home fans against the non-aggressive, but third-place Valencia, narrowed the gap with Barcelona in Spanish La Liga play to “only” nine points after Barça’s Girard Pique fended off the team’s first league loss of the season by squeaking through with a 1-1 draw against Espanyol.
Although Stefan Savic and Diego Godin went down to injury in Sunday’s contest, Correa managed to set up a stunning blast into the top corner from middle-distance right by goaltender Neto in the 60th minute.
Valencia deserved the loss, one could argue, since the squad did not manage to put a single shot on goal during the entire match.
Valencia will now host Barcelona next Thursday in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal, after the Catalonian powerhouse won the home match.
Atletico kept Neto busy during the game and, despite the loss of Savic in the first half and Godin early in the second, it stuck with the job at hand with Koke shooting a pass to Correa, who whirled away from defenders and fired one right on target and just out of reach of the goaltender, although he was not able to repeat that performance when he had another chance some 15 minutes later.
Diego Simeone’s squad is now two points closer to Barcelona than it was a week ago after 22 weeks of La Liga action and, although its title hopes are slim, it is still in the race.