Ten-man Atletico Madrid produced a stirring comeback to earn a 2-2 draw away to La Liga new boys Girona on Saturday night. Deservedly trailing 2-0 with just over ten minutes to go, the team having a stinker and Antoine Griezmann condemned to an early bath, it appeared that Atleti’s season was going to get off to a miserable start. But a fine solo strike from sub Angel Correa set up a grandstand finish and Jose Maria Gimenez headed Atleti level with five minutes remaining to ensure a share of the spoils in a frenetic game.
The fighting spirit shown to come back from the predicament the side found themselves in, away from home at a newly promoted side playing their first ever top-flight game, is encouraging. Correa’s cameo was particularly good.
The fact Los Rojiblancos found themselves needing to pull off a comeback — they were lethargic, second to every ball and bullied by Girona — was very disappointing. They did not look prepared for the inevitable fast start their hosts would make. The squad looks thin given the transfer ban, too.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Diego Simeone’s tactical re-shuffle and decision to throw on Correa paid dividends. The less said about the initial setup, the better.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jan Oblak, 8 — No chance with the goals. The Slovenian produced a couple of smart stops to keep the scoreline respectable before pulling off an out of this world save in stoppage time to salvage a point.
DF Juanfran, 4 — Given the run-around in the first period and both crosses that resulted in the goals came from down his flank. Looked off the pace and things did not improve after the break. Subbed prior to the hour as part of a tactical shake-up.
DF Stefan Savic, 4 — AWOL in a defensive sense throughout. Twice ball-watched as Cristhian Stuani headed the Catalan outfit into dreamland. Not much better after the break.
DF Jose Maria Gimenez, 6 — Another who was guilty of ball-watching for the Girona goals, but went some way to atoning with a brave header that earned his side a valuable point.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 4 — His shortcomings as a full-back were exposed by a ruthless Girona attacking display. Looked more comfortable when moved into a back three. Finished the game with a head injury.
MF Yannick Carrasco, 6 — A match that summed up the Belgian’s Atleti career to date. Flashes of brilliance, but too many frustrating decisions, and more often than not, the final ball was lacking.
MF Koke, 5 — Not at the races at all in midfield but produced a fine free kick delivery that resulted in the equaliser.
MF Gabi, 4 — Overrun as he tried in vain to protect the defence from the home side’s attacking tidal wave. Subbed.
MF Saul Niguez, 4 — A strong run and shot over the bar at 0-0 was as good as it got for Saul.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 3 — A nice overhead kick flew just wide as he tried to get his side back into things. Harshly booked when it appeared he was taken down by Gorka Iraizoz, but let the side down by getting himself sent off for dissent instead of getting on with things.
FW Fernando Torres, 4 — Isolated and uninvolved. Tried his best, but there genuinely was nothing he could do in such an inept team display before being subbed.
Angel Correa, 9 — A real game-changer from the bench. The only outfield player who could genuinely leave the field with his head held high. Looked lively from the moment he entered the fray and scored a brilliant solo goal to bring Los Colchoneros back into a game they had no right to get anything out of.
Nicolas Gaitan, 4 — Not the man for a crisis and is surely on borrowed time. Tame effort from the edge of the box at 2-1 after a wonderful pull-back summed him up.
Luciano Vietto, NR — See above.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.