Espanyol 1 Atletico Madrid 0: Late Garcia goal snatches dramatic win

Sergio Garcia scored a slick counter-attacking goal in the 88th minute as Espanyol grabbed all three points at home to Atletico Madrid.

Diego Simeone and his team had a forgettable night at the RCDE Stadium.   -  Getty Images

Espanyol brought Atletico Madrid's 20-game unbeaten run in La Liga to a juddering halt on Friday as Sergio Garcia's late strike sent Diego Simeone's side to a 1-0 defeat.

Read: Atletico sets club-record unbeaten run in La Liga

Second-placed Atletico had not tasted league disappointment since April when it was beaten by Villarreal, but offered little on a frustrating night at the RCDE Stadium.

Atleti only created one chance of note throughout the 90 minutes when Kevin Gameiro fired straight at Pau Lopez, while star striker Antoine Griezmann was well below par.

And the duo's poor form going forward was punished in the 88th minute, when a brisk Espanyol counter-attack presented a chance for Garcia, the striker making no mistake with a low finish at the back post.

The win lifts Espanyol five points clear of the bottom three, and will delight the Catalan side's neighbour Barcelona just as much.

Barca's six-point lead at the summit remains intact and could be widened further should it beat Real Madrid in the Clasico, while Valencia could move past Atletico with a win over Villarreal.

Espanyol did a good job of frustrating its in-form visitor in the early exchanges and had the clearest opening of the half after 19 minutes as Baptistao was played clean through.

Moreno won the ball back on the halfway line and released Garcia to drive at the Atleti defence. His pass found Baptistao in acres of space but, when one-on-one, he got his attempted lob horribly wrong and the ball sailed wide of Jan Oblak's goal.

It was a rare threat on the Atletico goal and slowly the visitor began to up the tempo. However, testing Pau Lopez proved difficult.

Indeed, Atleti's only dangerous moment came five minutes before the break as Fernando Torres' block fell for Griezmann in the area. 

The striker tried to go round Pau Lopez but instead of shooting fell theatrically to the floor and was lucky to avoid a booking from referee Mario Lopez.

It took until the 53rd minute for the first opening of the second half to arrive and again it was Espanyol which threatened, Moreno and Garcia involved as the latter screwed a low shot from the edge of the area wide.

The ball finally nestled in the net moments later as Diego Godin powered a header beyond Pau Lopez, but the Uruguayan's effort was ruled out for a foul.

A lacklustre Atletico was eventually able to call Pau Lopez into action when Griezmann played in Gameiro, however the substitute's effort was easily saved to sum up a disappointing night.

Read: Griezmann will be allowed to leave, says Simeone

And Garcia made it even worse for the title contender with his first goal of the season, curling a low shot past Oblak to give Quique Sanchez Flores victory over his former club.

Key Opta Stats:

- Sergio Garcia has scored his first goal in La Liga this season and his first goal in the competition since May 2015 against Celta, 944 days ago.
- Quique Sanchez Flores has won his first game as manager against Diego Simeone in La Liga (D1 L1).
- Sergio Garcia is the first player to score against Jan Oblak in an Atletico away La Liga game since Raul Garcia in September.
- Atletico had just one shot on target against Espanyol, fewer than in any other game this season in all competitions.
- Atletico is the only side in this season's La Liga yet to win a penalty.

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