First Division - Day 15

Atlético Madrid 2 - Espanyol 0

Atlético: Burgos; Gaspar, Lequi, Simeone, Sergi; De los Santos; Novo, Paunovic (Jorge 61'), Ibagaza (Nano 86'), Rodrigo (Javi Moreno 79'); Fernando Torres. 4-1-4-1.
Espanyol: Toni; Jarque, Soldevilla, Domoraud, Wome (Raúl Molina 69'); Morales, Alex Fernández (Velamazán 79'); Tayfun, Maxi (Jordi Cruyff 69'), De la Peña; Tamudo. 4-2-3-1.

Team changes: Atlético: Rodrigo, Paunovic for Musampa, Nikolaidis / Espanyol: Jarque, Soldevilla, Wome, Morales, Alex Fernández for Marc Bertrán, Lopo, David García, Fredson, Jordi Cruyff.

1-0. 21. Fernando Torres. From close up after Rodrigo played in Novo cross.
2-0. 73. Fernando Torres (penalty). After Soldevilla fouled Rodrigo in area.

Atlético Madrid held on to fifth spot with a 2-0 win over bottom club Espanyol, and they stay just one point outside the Champions League places. The match signalled the recovery of Fernando Torres, who had gone four games without a goal, and he made the difference between the two sides in the end.

The young Spanish international was in the action right from the start, and he fired a shot which Toni tipped onto the post as early as the third minute. However two minutes later Atleti were lucky to be let off the hook by referee Undiano Mallenco when Burgos tripped Tamudo as he tried to go round him just outside the penalty area, the referee waving away claims for a foul and a red card and booking the striker for protesting.

It was just another stroke of the bad luck which has dogged the Catalans all season, and a quarter of an hour later they found themselves behind, Fernando Torres nipping in to catch the defence asleep after Rodrigo had only half hit a long cross from Novo towards the goal.

The visitors tried to shake off the blow in the second half, with De la Peña leading the orchestra and firing a shot just over the bar. But with twenty minutes to go Daudén awarded a rigorous penalty against them when Rodrigo fell under Soldevilla's challenge, and Fernando Torres stepped up to crash home his ninth league goal of the season.

Espanyol ended the weekend three points adrift at the bottom with one of the lowest points tallies on record at this stage of the season, and they already have one foot in the second division. Luis Fernández has some work to do.