A last-minute goal from substitute Mario Hermoso gave Atletico Madrid victory in a seven-goal thriller as they beat Getafe 4-3 at home on Saturday.
The helter-skelter game saw six goals in the first half, as well as a missed penalty, before Hermoso — who had been brought on after Atletico defender Felipe was shown a straight red card in the second period — sent the Wanda Metropolitano into raptures and his team into fourth place in the LaLiga table.
Luis Suarez won the first of three first-half penalties within the first 10 minutes, however his spot kick was saved by Getafe keeper David Soria. Nevertheless, Atletico appeared in control as strikes from Angel Correa and Matheus Cunha put them 2-0 up after 27 minutes.
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However, the reigning champions fell behind after a mad 15 minutes in which they conceded two penalties for handball. Borja Mayoral and a double from Enes Unal put the visitors into an unlikely lead before Correa equalised in added-on time at the end of the first half.
Just before the hour mark, Felipe was dismissed for a high foot on Mauro Arambarri, which led Diego Simeone to reshuffle his defence and bring on Hermoso, with the defender ultimately proving to be the hero at the other end.
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“Getting back up when we fall down is our thing,” Simeone said after the match. “The team doesn’t want to drop out of the race it’s in. Last year we fought to be champions and today we’re fighting to be in the top four and we have to accept it. That’s our reality.
“If we accept it, we’ll all focus on the same thing. We need to be in the Champions League, and to be there we’ll need everyone, the fans, the players, the executives, and the staff.”
The win marked just the fourth for Simeone’s team in their past 11 contests across all competitions. The slump in form, which dates back to December, has seen them drop 14 of 24 points available in the league, knocked out of the Copa del Rey in the round of 16 and eliminated from the Spanish Supercopa at the first hurdle.
“To tell you the truth, I wish we knew what’s happening, so we could find the solution,” Hermoso said when asked about the reasoning behind los Rojiblancos‘ change in fortune. “It’s a lot of things, a lot of details that weren’t happening before, we didn’t have that bad luck to concede, and we were more decisive when we went ahead.
“We’ll keep working, we’re the same squad that were champions a year ago. We have an important group that we believe in.”