Atlético lets another golden opportunity get away against Recreativo

Atlético de Madrid missed a golden opportunity in Huelva against Recreativo (1-0) to solidify their place at the top of the table. The home team was superior in the first half, while the second went to the visitors. Recreativo coach Marcelino knew how to read the match and cancel out the visitors in the first half. Atletico traveled to Huelva with the intention of taking advantage of a good opportunity not to slip down the standings and anchor themselves in European spots. The players directed by Javier Aguirre wanted to carry the weight of the game in the first minutes, but Recreativo’s counter-attacks began to unsettle the Atletico bench. Only 9 minutes into the match, a questionable penalty by Portuguese player Zé Castro, who ended up in the starting line-up in place of Pablo, who re-injured his sprained ankle this week, on Uche ended up turning into the first goal of the match in Nuevo Colombino. Sinama-Pongolle stepped up and drove home the penalty into the right side of the netting. Things didn’t stop there, and only five minutes later, referee Ayza Gámez whistled another penalty on Greek back Seitaridis, once again on Uche and before the astonished eyes of the Atletico players. Fortunately for them, Sinama-Pongolle sent the penalty wide of the goal minded by Argentine goalie Leo Franco. If it had gone in, the footballers directed by Javier Aguirre could have found themselves in a 2-0 hole only 17 minutes into the game. Not 20 minutes had gone by and things got worse for Javier Aguirre and his team, who let the home team dominate the rhythm. The lack of connection between the pair of Maniche-Costinha in the center of the midfield resulted in a huge gap between the two wings and the players out wide weren’t able to continue the stellar play they demonstrated against Real Madrid. Atletico wasn’t able to construct a single dangerous play, while Recreativo made themselves owner of the pitch. Recre’s control was absolute, and their players once and again besieged Leo Franco’s goal, and Atleti couldn’t do anything against the clear and efficient play of the locals who imposed an unstoppable pace. The Recreativo coach, Marcelino, knew how to manage the game and it wasn’t hard for him to find Atletico’s weak spots without much effort. The intensity and the emotions of the first half didn’t allow the visiting team time to think. Atletico’s dangerous attack came in the 39th minute from the boots of ‘Kun’ Agüero, who invented a nice play on his own, which ended up with Jurado getting off a right-footed shot that was sent around the post by a diving López Vallejo, who had had very little work until then. The nerves were getting to both the Atletico fans who traveled to Huelva and to their bench, where Javier Aguirre didn’t stop giving instructions to his men. That’s how the first half, which left much to be desired regarding the play of the visiting team, came to a close. The second half began just as the first. Colombian Luis Amaranto Perea had to leave the match after twisting his ankle of the first play after the restart, and gave way to Gabi, who was able to impose a bit of clarity to the team’s play. Despite the change, Atletico de Madrid remained lost and their image didn’t get better in the first minutes of the second half. A nice play started by Javi Guerrero in minute 47 ended up not finding a shooter. The play was duplicated by Agüero when he got away from several Recre defenders and got off a great shot that forced López Vallejo into a fine save. Atletico woke up a bit after the Argentine’s play and Recre lost their intensity after the enormous amount of energy expended in the first half. Fernando Torres had a great chance in the 68th minute on a nice play down the right wing, but he didn’t see Kun all alone in the middle and decided to shoot, but the ball went wide of the far post. Atletico de Madrid deserved to level, but wasn’t able to finish off any of their attacks successfully. Marcelino tried to correct his players, but they didn’t seem to hear him. Mista came on to try and bring more danger to López Vallejo’s goal. Atletico stepped on the gas, Jurado tried to surprise Recre’s keeper from outside the area, but his shot went high. The tides had turned during the second half and Atletico was the team with more dangerous attacks, although they lacked preciseness in their definition. In minute 35, Mista got a good head on a cross, but López Vallejo was well positioned to make the stop and ended up with a clean sheet.