|First Division - Day 17|
Atlético Madrid 3 - Deportivo La Coruña 1
Burgos; Contra, García Calvo, Hibic, Sergi; Albertini (Nagore 75'),
Emerson (Movilla 48'); Jorge (Correa 62'), Fernando Torres, Luis García;
José Mari. 4-2-3-1.
Team changes: Atlético: Mono Burgos, Hibic, Sergi, Jorge for Esteban, Otero, Santi, Carreras / Deportivo: Duscher for Amavisca.
Three minutes of brilliance by young striker Fernando Torres gave Atlético Madrid a 3-1 win over Deportivo La Coruña. With the scores level late in the second half, the under 21 international left Naybet for dead before beating Juanmi with a shot from wide on the right, and produced another run before the visitors had time to settle to set up substitute Correa for him to wrap things up. It was enough to end the Gallicians' run of ten games without defeat, and take Atleti back up to eighth spot, only three points behind the European places.
It had been a traumatic week for the Madrid based side, with manager Luis Aragonés threatening to resign after club president Jesús Gil criticised his players. Gil, recently fitted with a pacemaker for a dickey heart, had to climb down and apologise, and Aragonés agreed to stay, at least for the rest of the season. The fans did not pardon him though, and after receiving abuse during the first half of the match he suffered a bad turn and had to leave the directors' box under medical orders.
What Atlético wanted more than anything was a win to forget all of that, and the match got off to the best possible start for them when José Marí picked up a half cleared ball and fired a long volley in to the top corner of the net in the first minute. However an error by eccentric keeper Mono Burgos, who was just returning to the side, let in top scorer Roy Makaay to level the scores only five minutes later. After that it was electrifying stuff, with the home side clearly on top against a Deportivo who appeared to have everyone playing out of position, Sergio on the right wing, Víctor on the left, etc, etc. Juanmi had to make first class saves from an on-form Luis García and from José Marí, and Hibic hit the bar with a header.
Depor were still dangerous on the counterattack though, and either side of half time Diego Tristán and then Makaay hit the post. Irureta tried to change the balance of his team and slow things down, bringing on left-sided midfielder Capdevila for Tristán, but a few minutes later "El Niño" struck and he rapidly changed his plans and brought on Luque. Burgos stood his ground though, making up for his earlier mistake, and Torres could have completed his hat-trick if he had not slipped after another great run. The youngster was applauded off at the end of the game, and everything is set up for an exciting game next Sunday when Atlético visit their city arch-rivals Real. Deportivo drop behind Valencia on goal difference to fourth, and an ominous seven point gap has opened up now between them and second placed Real Madrid, themselves a point behind leaders Real Sociedad.