MADRID: Young Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres stole the show at the Calderon on Sunday, inspiring his side to a memorable 3-1 win over Deportivo Coruna in a frantic Spanish First Division match.
The 18-year-old scored one goal and set up another to complete a brilliant individual performance that gave Atletico their first win in four games and ended Deportivo’s 10-match unbeaten run.
Real Sociedad stayed at the top of the table on Saturday after fighting back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at champions Valencia thanks to late strikes from Darko Kovacevic and Nihat Kahveci.
But Real Madrid are breathing down their neck just a point behind after an early strike from Ronaldo secured the European champions their sixth straight league victory, 1-0 win at Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Valencia now trail seven points behind in third, heading fourth-placed Deportivo on goal difference.
Real Betis moved up to fifth after an exciting 2-2 draw at home to Alaves, while Barcelona dropped a place to ninth, a point behind Atletico, after a goalless draw at Malaga.
Atletico produced their most convincing performance of the season against Depor.
They made a flying start when winger Jose Mari sent an unstoppable swerving shot into the top corner after just two minutes.
But the Atletico fans barely had time to begin their celebrations before the league’s leading scorer Roy Makaay cashed in on an error from Argentine goalkeeper German Burgos to score his 12th goal of the season and put Deportivo level.
Burgos failed to gather a loose ball on the edge of the box and the Dutch striker pounced to slot home into the empty net on six minutes.
The breathless pace was maintained throughout the first half, with Jose Mari denied a second when he saw goalkeeper Juanmi block his bullet header on the line and Depor striker Diego Tristan hit the post with a rasping shot minute later.
There was no let up after the break as the two sides traded attacks.
Burgos produced a string of fine reflex saves to frustrate Tristan and Makaay early on in the second half, while Atletico peppered the Depor goal with a series of pot shots.
But two pieces of individual brilliance from fans’ favourite Torres secured a morale-boosting Atletico win.
The young striker controlled a hopeful long ball with his chest, teased his way past defender Noureddine Naybet and curled a brilliant shot into the far corner to give Atletico the lead on 78 minutes.
Two minutes later he prised open the Depor defence as he cut in from the right wing, shook off Donato before leaving the ball for substitute centre forward Fernando Correa to rifle past Juanmi. – Reuters