Result: Real Zaragoza 2 Atletico Madrid 1
Real Zaragoza came from behind to record a crucial 2-1 win at the Romareda against Atletico Madrid this evening. Simao Sabrosa gave the visitors the lead after 26 minutes, but the hosts levelled when Pablo Ibanez diverted Gabi's free-kick into his own net later in the first half. Diego Milito secured all three points for the home side with a late penalty that ends a run of four straight defeats for Zaragoza in La Liga.
Zaragoza Coach Javier Irureta resigned last Monday after only six games in charge and the club found themselves just one place above the relegation zone. This was therefore an absolutely vital win for new coach Manuel Villanova who opted for a new look defensive 4-1-4-1 formation.
The home side dominated the early stages of the game but, as the match wore on, Atletico began to look increasingly more threatening. As the visitors began to pile the pressure on the fragile Zaragoza defence it was somewhat inevitable when Simao broke the deadlock and scored the opener for Atleti.
As Atletico threatened to grab a second, the home side began to look as if their fragile confidence might trigger a collapse. However, a farcical error by Pablo that saw him poke the ball in to his own net was enough to spark a Zaragoza revival. The home side were now level, somewhat undeservedly, and they suddenly seemed to sense that this could be their night.
Zaragoza began the second half with their confidence renewed and came close to taking the lead on a number of occasions. As the half progressed it became increasingly more open as both sides chased the winning goal and when Simao clattered into Sergio Garcia in the area on 73 minutes, Gabi Milito was never going to waste the opportunity to give Zaragoza the lead from the resulting spot kick.
Zaragoza clung on valiantly for the remaining 17 minutes, in spite of Atletico throwing everything in their armoury at them, and it took a reflex save from Cesar to deny Forlan with just minutes remaining.
Zaragoza’s win sees them climb three points clear of the relegation zone, while Atletico stay in fourth thanks to Espanyol’s defeat at the Bernabeu earlier in the evening.