Mon, Sep 01, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Atletico Madrid struggle past Eibar for first win

AFP, MADRID

La Liga champions Atletico Madrid recorded their first victory of the campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over newly promoted Eibar on Saturday.

First-half headers from Miranda and Mario Mandzukic ultimately proved decisive, but Atletico were given a scare after Abraham’s brilliant strike had brought Eibar back into the game.

The visitors had a great chance to level the game three minutes from time, but Angel’s effort trickled inches past the far post as Atletico held on.

Simeone’s men had been held 0-0 at local rivals Rayo Vallecano in their league opener on Monday, but normal service appeared to have been resumed by two set-piece goals inside the first 25 minutes.

Brazilian defender Miranda put the hosts in front when he met Koke’s corner at the near post and the ball flew into the net via the underside of the bar.

Eibar had produced an upset in beating near neighbors Real Sociedad in their first ever Spanish top-flight match last weekend, but they were punished for their defending 15 minutes later when Mandzukic planted a header from Gabi’s free-kick into the far corner.

However, the Basques responded in fine style and after Miguel Angel Moya had beaten away Javi Lara’s free-kick, they produced a moment of sheer quality to get back into the match.

A flowing move resulted in left-back Abraham curling Mikel Arruabarrena’s backheel into the top corner from outside the area with his right foot.

Atletico tried to restore their two-goal cushion before the break and only a fine save from Xabi Irureta prevented Raul Garcia from celebrating his call-up to the Spanish national team on Friday with a goal.

Eibar, though, were clearly the dominant side in the second period.

Earlier, Athletic Bilbao celebrated their qualification to the group stage of the Champions League with a comfortable 3-0 win over Levante.

Celta Vigo also continued their unbeaten start to the campaign despite the absence of departed coach Luis Enrique as they drew 1-1 at Cordoba.

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