Atletico win again at Valencia despite penalty woes
By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Antoine Griezmann made amends for missing a second penalty in as many games by hitting the opening goal as Atletico Madrid beat Valencia 2-0 on Sunday to provisionally go top of La Liga.
The France hitman saw his first half penalty beaten away by spot-kick saving specialist Diego Alves, who repelled another penalty from Gabi later on. But he finally blasted past the Brazilian goalkeeper in the 62nd minute, while Kevin Gameiro sealed the points in injury time.
Griezmann finished off a sweeping Atletico break after Yannick Carrasco had teed up substitute Fernando Torres, forcing Alves to parry, and Gameiro knocked the ball back for his fellow Frenchman to fire into the unguarded net.
Atletico withstood late pressure from the home side and Gameiro powered his way towards goal in the dying seconds, dancing past a defender to smash past Alves from close range.
Atletico provisionally lead the table with 15 points, with title rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona, on 14 and 13 respectively, playing later on Sunday.
Atletico travelled to Mestalla stadium full of confidence after their impressive 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday, while there was an optimistic mood among the home fans too following the appointment of new coach Cesare Prandelli.
The former Italy coach assumes full control of the struggling team on Monday and his new side made a positive start in an end to end game, although they conceded a penalty when Nani fouled Angel Correa in the area.
Griezmann, who had struck the bar from the spot against Bayern and in the Champions League final against Real Madrid, missed a third straight penalty for Atletico as Alves dived to his right to save yet another spot-kick after setting a La Liga record last week.
After Griezmann had broken the deadlock Alves made his 19th penalty save in the league by denying Atletico captain Gabi from 12 yards, but his feats proved anecdotal as Valencia slumped to a fifth defeat in seven games.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Chopra)