As the Rayo Vallecano players walked out at the Vicente Calderon, they formed a guard of honour. Just over an hour after applauding the European Super Cup champions on to the pitch they appeared to be also presenting them with three points, gift wrapped with a pretty bow on top. Rayo in seven crazy minutes in the 2nd half conceded three times and what was worse, both the 2nd and 3rd goals were almost identical. First it was Koke, and then it was Arda Turan’s turn to stand-alone in the box and receive a pass from the six-yard box to slot it home. Atlético fans were euphoric but so too were the Rayo fans who still sung and supported their team. As the clock showed that their was only 10 minutes left, the Rayo Ultras started to sing ‘Now let’s start the comeback.’ Nobody took it serious, or so it would seem.
They don’t make them anywhere else like they do in Vallekas. A fan base that have their own upbeat, and tinted with a Spanish accent, version of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, is one in a million. They sang last season when they were losing seven nil to Barca and they applauded Jose Mourinho when he gave them a ‘thumbs up’. Yes, it is very hard not to be impressed by the Rayo fans spirit. When the game should have been dead and buried Rayo scored and it should have been just a consolation goal but it was to be so much more. Atlético got nervous and started to panic. Rayo seeing their anxiety went for it and scored a 2nd and a 3rd. Luckily for Los Rojiblancos there was not enough time for them to steal a 4th or even a 5th. To quote Rayo coach the game can be summed up as ‘Lost in 70 minutes, nearly drawn in 7.’
Rayo, although defeated, will take something from the game. They showed determination, heart and commitment. They will need more of that in the upcoming weeks as they face both Real Madrid and Barca. Atlético will forget the first 70 minutes, were they played some thrilling football, and be left with the memory that the late goals conceded last season are still an issue. Simeone has said that the substitute changes he made were what caused the side to lose its shape and its form, and that the blame lies with him but this isn’t the first lapse of concentration that Atlético have suffered. Against Athletic Bilbao they concede late too but because they won so comfortably and most of the headlines centred on Marcelo Bielsa it went almost ignored. Atlético’s back four have all played international football and the truth is that the errors and lapses made last night are not what is expected from a side that wants to challenge for 3rd.
Around the Grounds
It goes from bad to worse for Real Madrid. On Thursday as the team returned and took part in a team photo, Florentino Perez turned and asked Cristiano Ronaldo was he better. The forward smiled and said yes but against Sevilla, both Ronaldo and Real Madrid would face more misery. Sevilla played a strong, tough tackling game but Mourinho’s men lacked direction and had the shape of a Sunday league side. To make matters worse, Barca now holds an eight-point lead over their bitter rivals. Where Los Vikingos came undone a few weeks ago, Tito, watching from the stands, would see his charges take a 4-1 victory with goals from Adriano, Messi and Villa against Getafe. It meant that only Atleti won from the capital’s clubs. It also means that El Clasico in the first weekend of October is now a must win for Casillas et co.
Málaga the side that was destined for doom win again. The hard work done by the likes of Pellegrini and others at the club, when those responsible abandoned the fans in their hour of need, can not be praised enough. Ex River Plate, Barca, Sevilla, Monaco, Real Madrid and Benfica striker Javier Saviola marked his comeback in La Liga with a stunning goal. Málaga would score two more to beat Levante 3-1. Levante finding the going tough this time around.
Valencia get their first win of the season. Espanyol and Athletic played out a thrilling 3-3 draw, with Fernando Llorente on the score sheet. Deportivo and Granada played out a one all draw, as too did Osasuna and Mallorca. Real Sociedad beat Real Zaragoza, leaving Manolo Jimenez just a point above the relegation zone.
Results: Malaga 3-1 Levante, Valencia 2-1 Celta, Getafe 1 -4 Barcelona, Sevilla 1-0 Real Madrid, Espanyol 3-3 Athletic Bilbao, Granada 1-1 Deportivo, Osasuna 1-1 Mallorca, Real Sociedad 2-0 Zaragoza, Atlético 4-3 Rayo, Valladolid 0-1 Real Betis