Griezmann gives Atletico win in first match at new home
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 17, 2017 08:40 AM
FILE - In this Tuesday May 2, 2017 file photo, Atletico's Antoine Griezmann gestures before their Champions League semifinals first leg soccer match against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, file)
By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press
MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid debuted its new stadium and beat Malaga 1-0 in the Spanish league on Saturday. Antoine Griezmann scored the first goal at the state-of-the-art Wanda Metropolitano.
The nearly 68,000 fans at the inaugural match in the stadium on the outskirts of the Spanish capital erupted when Griezmann converted a low cross by Angel Correa from the right an hour in.
"I'm proud to have written my name in the history of the stadium and in the history of the club," Griezmann said. "Hopefully there will be many more goals like this in this stadium."
The victory capped a day of festivities celebrating the stadium's opening game, attended by King Felipe VI. Afterward, players went around the field greeting the fans in the stands. A show with fireworks and music ensued.
"I've never seen anything like this as a player or a coach," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "With all the flags flying at the same time, the fans were really into it, as if they wanted to be playing. It was moving."
Atletico moved to within four points of Barcelona, which came from behind to defeat Getafe 2-1 and stay perfect after four matches.
Second-place Real Sociedad, the only other team which entered the weekend with a perfect record, hosts defending champion Real Madrid on Sunday. Madrid is in 11th place, seven points behind Barcelona.
Malaga, which has lost all of its matches, dropped to last in the 20-team standings.
Atletico played its first three games away so there was enough time to get everything ready for the inaugural match.
"It had the feeling of a final," Atletico striker Fernando Torres said. "As we started hearing the fans chanting our songs, we started seeing the stadium as our own. Everything is better when you win. We started with the right foot."
It moved into its new home after more than 50 years at Vicente Calderon Stadium, which was beloved by its fans and produced one of the greatest atmospheres in soccer.
The crowd was still loud at Wanda Metropolitano, which offered lot more comfort and luxury.
The stadium is named after the team's old Estadio Metropolitano and the Chinese company which has a stake in the club. It is the club's fifth stadium in its 114-year history. The 240 million euro ($286 million) venue is filled with references to the team's rich history, including its past stadiums and great players.
Paulinho scored his first goal for Barcelona late in the second half to keep alive the side's perfect record. He fought off a defender inside the area before firing into the far corner in the 84th minute.
"I'm very happy to have scored the winning goal, it was very special," Paulinho said.
A former Tottenham player who was playing in China last season, Paulinho was one of the few players signed by Barcelona in the offseason. The club paid 40 million euros to attract the Brazil midfielder and was criticized by many for spending so much on him.
Getafe, which has won only one of its four games to start the season, led through Japanese midfielder Gaku Shibasaki just before halftime. Denis Suarez equalized in the second half.
"We had the game under control," Getafe coach Jose Bordalas said. "The players are disappointed. We put in a great effort and the result was not what we expected. It doesn't seem like it was a fair result. We were unlucky but we put on a challenge against a great team."
Barcelona won the match but lost Ousmane Dembele, its biggest offseason signing, midway through the first half because of an apparent muscle injury.
The Valencia derby between Levante and Valencia ended 1-1. The result left both teams also even in the standings.
Midfielder Joaquin Sanchez scored in each half to give Real Betis a 2-1 victory over Deportivo La Coruna, keeping the rival winless. Deportivo has lost all of its matches except for a 2-2 draw at Levante in the second round.