Atleti's Correa re-paying Simeone's faith with 8/10 showing in win
An Angel Correa wonder-goal was enough for Atletico Madrid to sneak past Valencia 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday night and tighten their grip on second place in La Liga in the process.
Between these two managers, there was predictably little space for attacking players to flourish and it was always going to take something special to break the deadlock. Correa's sixth of the season was just that, finding the top corner from a seemingly impossible angle from 30 yards out.
After Barcelona's slip-up earlier in the day, the gap is back down to nine points. Dare to dream...
Finally, a win against a direct rival in a big game at the Wanda! It took its time in coming, but you hope that is a huge monkey off Los Rojiblancos' back now. Correa is rewarding the faith being shown in him by the coach.
The two starting centre-backs went off injured, while Sime Vrsaljko finishing barely able to walk.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Diego Simeone's attacking -- but disciplined -- XI was largely nullified by Marcelino's defensive setup, however his persistence with Correa is paying dividends. Maybe declared his intentions to see it out 1-0 a bit too early by bringing Gabi on, but the side got the job done.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jan Oblak, 6 -- Did not have a save of note to make. Dealt with a couple of crosses with ease.
DF Sime Vrsaljko, 7 -- Appeared to have a bullseye on his back. Was the victim of a few rash tackles that the pedantic referee oddly let slide. Finished hobbling and with the injuries picked up the club will be hoping it is nothing serious.
DF Stefan Savic, 6 -- Did not have a great deal to do for his half hour on the pitch. Off injured, however the man who replaced him is arguably more deserving of a starting place.
DF Diego Godin, 6 -- Solid in defence, standing up well to the physicality of Simeone Zaza. Wiped out by Valencia keeper Neto just after the break and appeared to be missing a couple of teeth. Should have been a penalty, to be fair.
DF Lucas Hernandez, 7 -- His versatility came in extremely handy with the injuries to Savic and Godin, slotting in at centre-back with the minimum of fuss after the break.
MF Yannick Carrasco, 5 -- One of those games that promised a lot but delivered little. Happens too often and little surprise he was subbed with the side 1-0 up in order to shore things up.
MF Koke, 6 -- Covered the most ground of anyone on the pitch, and will get the assist for the goal, albeit that is generous. Worked tirelessly and kept things ticking over in the middle of the park.
MF Saul Niguez, 6 -- Better than he has been of late. Saw a long-ranger tipped round the post in the first half and made a crucial block late on.
MF Angel Correa, 8 -- Best player on the pitch. Looked like something was going to happen every time he got the ball and his winner was a moment of magic out of nothing. Needs to build on this.
FW Antoine Griezmann, 5 -- The image of the Frenchman putting his finger to his lips as the crowd implored him to spearhead a counter-attack, only to turn back towards his own goal saw the game end on a sour note. Should not have done it and showed extreme petulance.
FW Diego Costa, 6 -- Continued his battle from English football with Gabriel, but on much better terms. Still managed to commit a lot of fouls, though.
Jose Maria Gimenez (for Savic), 8 - Was excellent for his hour on the pitch. Denied from a corner by a stunning save at one end and solid at the other. Should get an overdue extended run in the side given the injuries.
Juanfran (for Godin), 7 -- Attacked with gusto when he came on and looked lively.
Gabi (for Carrasco), 5 -- Too often chasing Geoffrey Kondogbia's shadow and lucky not to be sent off for committing two card-worthy fouls.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.