Impressive Las Palmas stun La Liga lead-chasing Atletico

Las Palmas’ Spanish midfielder Kirian Rodriguez celebrates scoring the opening goal against Atletico Madrid on Friday (JAVIER SORIANO)

Atletico Madrid spurned a chance to rise to the top of La Liga as they fell to a surprise 2-1 defeat by Las Palmas on Friday.

Diego Simeone’s side would have levelled leaders Real Madrid and Girona on points with a victory, but were outplayed by the hosts, provisionally ninth and enjoying their first season in the top flight since 2018.

Kirian Rodriguez and Benito Ramirez struck in the second half for the Canary Islanders to secure Garcia Pimienta’s side a famous victory, with Alvaro Morata pulling one back late on.

Atletico had racked up six consecutive league victories before falling short at Estadio de Gran Canaria.

“Las Palmas had a great game and it was hard for us,” Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak told Movistar.

“They did not let us play, they made it hard for us to bring the ball out, they were very good.

“We were not perfect (so) in the end you lose, every game in this league is difficult if things don’t go how they should, you can lose against any team.”

The goalkeeper said he was sure his team would stay in the title fight and end up “happy” in May.

“La Liga is long, it doesn’t matter if you go top or not, because there are a lot of games to go,” he added.

“You have to be well, strong, lift your head up and keep improving and winning games. “I’m sure when the season ends we will be happy.”

The first half was a tight affair, with Las Palmas as mean at the back as they have been throughout this season — only Madrid and Atletico have conceded fewer goals.

The best opening of the first half fell to Rodrigo Riquelme, Atletico’s most dangerous player throughout.

Antoine Griezmann threaded a pass in behind for the Spanish midfielder, but Alvaro Valles was equal to his shot.

– Low drive –

Las Palmas took the lead through Kirian’s low drive from outside the box after 51 minutes.

Atletico complained the ball had gone out in the build-up, but the hosts kept it in, with Javier Munoz cleverly stepping over Munir El-Haddadi’s pass to allow Kirian to strike.

Riquelme came close soon after, drilling a low effort against the post, and goalkeeper Valles breathed a sigh of relief as the ball bounced off his head on the rebound but did not drop over the line.

Simeone made the interesting choice to take off Griezmann after an hour, throwing on Angel Correa in his stead.

“We wanted to put on fresh players and try to see if we could respond and turn the game around,” Simeone told Movistar.

However Las Palmas doubled their advantage with 15 minutes remaining when Ramirez smashed a low effort past Jan Oblak at the near post.

Morata set up an exciting finale when he tucked away Riquelme’s inviting cross, pulling level on seven La Liga goals with team-mate Griezmann, behind only Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham.

Morata might have levelled but flashed a shot against the crossbar with Valles out of position after saving well from Pablo Barrios’ fierce effort.

“Promotion lets you play matches of this calibre, against teams and players like this, and I think Canarian players, when you work them up a bit, when they see that (the opponent) is better than them, this streak comes out and they want to compete,” Kirian told Movistar.

“Everybody is a hero, all the fans, look at the atmosphere, look at the desire we had for a match like this, we showed the team can compete.”

Atletico host Celtic on Tuesday in the Champions League and Simeone will demand far more from his side than this largely flat offering.

“The opponent played well and deserved to win,” added Simeone.

“This time it couldn’t be and (we have) to prepare well for Tuesday’s game.”



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