Valencia continue Flores pressure
Joaquin Sanchez scored both goals as Valencia hit back from going a goal down early on to defeat Atletico Madrid 2-1, whose miserable start to 2011 shows no sign of abating. Atletico had lost their previous four matches without managing a single goal to leave coach Quique Sanchez Flores under increasing pressure, but they gained an early advantage tonight when Jose Antonio Reyes put them ahead after just three minutes.
However, the Rojiblancos could not keep hold of the lead and Valencia drew level just before the break through Joaquin. Diego Forlan then missed a penalty for Atletico at the start of the second half before Valencia claimed all three points when captain Joaquin netted their winner four minutes from time. Atletico lost centre-back Diego Godin to a straight red card after that, capping another miserable night for the capital club, who have now lost six of their last seven league and cup games.
The result means Valencia, who have now won six of their last eight matches, provisionally climb up to third place, two points in front of Villarreal, while Atletico slip further away from the UEFA Champions League spots. Atletico had only won one of their nine matches since the turn of the year, but they looked set for a more promising night as they took the lead early on.
Joaquin punishes Atletico
Reyes created space for himself in the area before drilling a low shot past Vicente Guaita in the visiting goal. Atletico appeared good value to hold on to their advantage until half-time as they looked the more dangerous of the two sides in the first period, but the hosts were pegged back just before the break by Joaquin, who slid in Jordi Alba's left-wing cross.
Atletico will feel they were unlucky not to be ahead at the interval, but they were handed a great chance to re-take the lead in the 56th minute when Hedwiges Maduro brought down Reyes in the area to concede a penalty. However, Forlan spurned the chance as his spot-kick came back off the left-hand post with Guaita going the other way.
That proved to be a costly miss as, after Atletico had gone close through Sergio Aguero and Valencia full-back Alba had fired into the side-netting, the visitors snatched a late winner when Joaquin found the far bottom corner of the net with a precise finish from outside the box.
There was no way back for Atletico after that, especially when Godin was dismissed for his challenge on Joaquin, and coach Sanchez Flores will again find himself under the spotlight.