Sports Desk, Jan 3 (EFE).- Ivan Martin’s late strike rendered Alvaro Morata’s hat-trick void as Girona pulled off a shock win, this time over Atletico de Madrid by 4-3 goals, to finish the first leg of the Spanish LaLiga as co-leaders on Wednesday.
After Real Madrid edged Real Mallorca 1-0 thanks to Antonio Rudiger’s goal, Girona matched their 48 points in their dream first match of 2024, in which Valery Fernandez, Savio Moreira, and Daley Blind scored the first three goals for the Catalan side.
Atletico, who have now suffered their fourth defeat on the road, trail Girona and Madrid, as do holders Barcelona, who will play against Las Palmas on Thursday.
Every time Girona went ahead, Morata pulled Atletico back, completing his hat-trick in the early second half to put the score 3-3, but he was powerless to thwart Martin’s winner.
In the 91st minute, two minutes after Diego Simeone replaced Morata and Griezmann with Cesar Azpilicueta and Saul Niguez, Martín made it 4-3 with a shot into the top corner to leave Giorna’s tiny home, Montilivi, crazy.
A header by Rudiger saved Madrid from its now-classic January setback against a Mallorca team that was denied by the woodwork twice.
Aware of the danger at the start of the year, with holidays often disrupting the rhythm, Madrid had to remain cautious and had their luck to thank for remaining unscathed until they found the winner.
Rudiger used his power to head home a Luka Modric corner in 78 minutes to bring relief to Santiago Bernabeu.
“It wasn’t easy to find openings so I’m very happy to score the goal. We’ve been working on it in training,” Rudiger said after the game.
“Carvajal created some nice cover. Modric’s ball in was very good, I measured my run well and it was a good header,” he added.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was particularly happy to see the team score from a set piece.
“In the first part of the season we scored a lot of goals from set pieces and my coaching staff are working well on this,” he said.
“We have good set-piece takers and formidable finishers. There are games where the set-piece gives you an advantage.”
Madrid will play Arandina CF in the Copa del Rey in their next match on Sunday.