By Jerry Karg
Las Palmas travelled to the Vicente Calderón stadium in Madrid on Tuesday January 10th to take on Atletico Madrid for a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Copa del Rey. This was the second leg of the sixteenth round with Atletico winning the first match 0 – 2. Las Palmas´ trainer, Quique Setién said prior to the match his team ¨would try to put on a good performance¨. He turned out to be right as UD Las Palmas showcased their skills in an entertaining match, although this wasn’t enough to go through: 2 – 3.
Before the game, three Las Palmas fans still had high hopes. “We can still win, I think”, said Jorge, a Spanish native who was born in Las Palmas on the Canary Islands but now resides in Madrid. “But it will be difficult”, he concluded.
In front of the stadium, Paco, a seller of Atlético Madrid merchandise, said: “I am a big fan of Atletico Madrid. And I have been here for years, always in the same spot. I hope they win every game. It would mean I would sell even more scarves.”
The first half was without goals, and in the second, Atlético Madrid initially did not perform badly at all. They were efficient with their goals, one shorty after half time and another in the 61st minute. Antoine Griezmann opened the score after collecting an assist from Gaitan. It seemed like Atletico’s squad was in control, to the delight of more than 20.000 home fans.
The yellow Canaries quickly recovered from Griezmann’s goal as Marko Livaja scored the equalizer eight minutes later. It provided a small beam of hope for the team, as they now had to score two more goals to advance. A tall order but not impossible, considering there were more than 30 minutes left in the match. Four minutes later all hope seemed to vanish as
Atletico’s supporters jumped up after Angel Correa scored Atletico’s second goal, putting the ball through the legs of the goalie of Las Palmas.
Madrid’s flamboyant head coach Diego Simone quickly pulled off his superstar Griezmann in favor of the old club icon Fernando Torres, as he believed the match had been played. Madrid was up 2 – 1. Las Palmas would now have to score three goals in order to advance to the next round.
It seemed as if Atlético would be flying into the quarterfinals. Las Palmas´ striker Marko Livaja had other ideas. As Atletico lost their concentration, the scorer of the first goal produced the equalizer in the 89 st minute, 2 – 2. The assist came off the foot of Mateo Garcia, a 22 year old talented left winger, who proceeded to put Las Palmas ahead deep into the extra time. Thus, Las Palmas managed to score two excellent goals in the last ten minutes. Directly after the 2 – 3, the referee ended the game, much to the relief of Atletico.