Atletico climb to fourth
Ten-man Atletico Madrid climbed to fourth in the Primera Division this evening thanks to a hard-fought win over rock-bottom Real Zaragoza at the Vicente Calderon.
Diego Costa netted the game's only goal in the 20th minute after good work down the left by Filipe Luis. Jose Antonio Reyes was harshly sent off just after the hour for running into the back of Matteo Contini as a tetchy game - which also saw 10 yellow cards - threatened to boil over.
Diego Costa was handed a starting berth in place of Sergio Aguero, who was only named on the bench after struggling with a leg injury in the build-up to the game, and took only 20 minutes to get his name on the scoresheet. Filipe made the most of a fortunate ricochet and burst past Jiri Jarosik into the area down the left-hand side and crossed for his fellow Brazilian to bundle home from close range.
Zaragoza's former Atletico goalkeeper Leo Franco hobbled off in the 26th minute to be replaced by Antonio Doblas, who did well to keep his side only one down 10 minutes later.
Diego Costa was put through down the right by Reyes but opted for a shot which was kept out by the legs of Doblas when a cross to Forlan in the middle might have proved more fruitful for the hosts.
Zaragoza produced little threat in the first half other than long-range free-kicks. They finished the opening period looking purposeful but failed to test David De Gea. Atletico appealed for a penalty in stoppage time when Diego Costa went down under the challenge of Contini but the referee was not interested.
The game became all the more scrappy after the interval with Alvaro Dominguez and De Gea both booked following the award of a controversial free-kick just outside the Atletico six-yard box after De Gea picked up what was deemed a backpass by Tiago.
Florent Sinama Pongolle's free-kick was blocked, but moments later the home bench were off their feet again as Reyes was shown a straight red card after colliding with Contini when the Italian stopped in his path. An incensed Aguero had to be restrained by coach Quique Sanchez Flores on the touchline, but still picked up a booking.
Things almost got worse for the hosts in the 65th minute when Gabi tried his luck, but De Gea was on his toes and managed to tip the ball around the post. The ten men of Atletico looked to double their advantage but Diego Godin's header from a corner was parried by Doblas.
Aguero was introduced with 15 minutes remaining and immediately caused panic in the Zaragoza defence which resulted in a mistake on which Simao Sabrosa pounced, but the Portuguese could only find the side-netting from an acute angle.
Uruguay defender Godin was carried off on a stretcher in the closing stages to leave Atletico temporarily with nine men. He returned two minutes later, however, in a bid to help his side preserve their lead - a feat they managed with no real difficulty against a Zaragoza side who have scored only three goals so far this season.