Griezmann brace lifts Atletico

LATE BLOOMER::RCD Espanyol midfielder Victor Alvarez scored his first goal in 61 first-division games, helping them to their second straight win

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

Thu, Sep 24, 2015 - Page 18

Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann struck two goals for a 2-0 win against crosstown rivals Getafe on Tuesday, helping his side take the overnight lead of La Liga.

Griezmann continued his strong start to the season with his fourth and fifth goals in six games in all competitions. Atletico’s fourth win in five rounds moved the club above Barcelona on 12 points each.

The France forward put Atletico in front in the fourth minute before rounding off the victory at the Estadio Vicente Calderon with a second goal in the 90th.

“[Griezmann] is in a very good moment,” coach Diego Simeone said. “He has grown incredibly and is a very important player for this team.”

Elsewhere, Imanol Agirretxe netted a hat-trick to give Real Sociedad their first win of the season, a 3-0 victory against Granada, while RCD Espanyol midfielder Victor Alvarez scored his first goal in 61 first-division appearances in their 1-0 win over Valencia.

Griezmann’s talent was enough for an otherwise uninspired effort.

He deftly controlled an off-target shot by Gabi Fernandez and scored from close range for the fourth-minute opener.

And after Getafe came close to an equalizer when Pedro Leon missed in the 62nd, Atletico substitute Jackson Martinez ran onto a long pass and squared the ball for Griezmann to finish.

In Granada, Agirretxe started his torment of the hosts’ defense by deflecting David Zurutuza’s pass off the post and into the net in the seventh minute.

The striker got a second goal in the 32nd when he pounced on Doria’s poor pass and scrambled the ball past goalkeeper Andres Fernandez. He struck a third time in the 79th after controlling a lobbed pass, brushing off a defender and chipping the ball over Fernandez.

Espanyol bossed the match in Barcelona, other than a pair of headers in each half from Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno that goalkeeper Pau Lopez did well to save.

Alvarez gave Espanyol the lead in the 18th minute when the forward was alone at the far post to head in a Marco Asensio free-kick that was flicked on inadvertently by Valencia’s Santi Mina.

Asensio, a promising forward on loan from Real Madrid, led Espanyol’s attack throughout and drew a fine save from goalkeeper Jaume Domenech just before halftime.

Espanyol got their second straight win following a humbling 6-0 loss at home to Madrid.

“This is the best way to give us a boost after the poor game we played last time at home,” Alvarez said.

Valencia’s most disgruntled fans were already calling for coach Nuno Santo Espirito to be fired after his team drew their previous league game.

Now, with only one win in five rounds and a losing start to the Champions League group phase, the manager faces a critical test at the Estadio Mestalla against Granada tomorrow.

“We have to turn this around as soon as possible and that means on Friday,” Espirito Santo said.