Forlan lifts Atletico top in Spain
Diego Forlan struck twice as buoyant Atletico Madrid started their Primera Division campaign in impressive fashion with a 4-0 win against Sporting Gijon on Monday.
A near-capacity crowd crammed into the Vicente Calderon to see if Atletico could build on a memorable few months that has seen them win the UEFA Europa League, the European Super Cup and reach the final of the Copa del Rey.
And the Rojiblancos supporters headed home happy after seeing their side record an ultimately convincing victory with Jose Manuel Jurado netting early on and Forlan adding two more in the 40th and 64th minutes. The scoring was completed in injury-time when substitute Simao Sabrosa curled home a brilliant goal.
Quique Sanchez Flores' men could have scored even more goals as well, but there was also evidence of their old defensive frailties as Sporting created a number of chances of their own in an entertaining match. After a celebration to mark Friday's 2-0 European Super Cup win over Inter Milan at the start of the match, Atletico needed just 11 minutes to open the scoring. Jurado, who is being linked with a big-money move to Schalke, was the goalscorer as he drilled a shot into the far corner of the net.
That was just the start Atletico would have been hoping for, but they were fortunate still to be holding that advantage half an hour later as Sporting cut open the home defence on several occasions. Miguel de las Cuevas, David Barral and Carmelo all had more than one effort each, but a mixture of good goalkeeping from David De Gea and poor finishing let Atletico off the hook.
After another good save by De Gea in the 37th minute, Atletico immediately broke down the other end for Forlan to make it 2-0. It was Sergio Aguero who did all the work with a mazy dribble into the area that looked set to net him a wonder goal. The Argentinian was finally tackled but, agonisingly for Sporting, the ball fell perfectly for Uruguayan FIFA World Cup™ star Forlan to slot into an empty net from five yards out.
Atletico never looked back after that and might even have increased their lead further before the break with Jurado and Forlan going close. Sporting briefly threatened at the start of the second half with Carmelo being denied by De Gea's feet, but Forlan made sure of the points in the 63rd minute when he tapped home Tomas Ujfalusi's cross.
Atletico had further opportunities to increase their lead before finally managing to add a fourth right at the end through Simao. The Portuguese winger's superb 20-yard effort flew into the far top corner to put the icing on the cake for the delighted Atletico players and their fans.