TOSU, SAGA PREF. – Atletico Madrid labored past Sagan Tosu 4-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in a preseason friendly for the Spanish side at Best Amenity Stadium on Saturday.
Diego Simeone’s side, which finished third behind Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga last season, led through Koke, who scored direct from a corner in the 18th minute, but Tosu equalized eight minutes from time through an own goal.
“We played in tough conditions but the performance is something we can take heart from,” Koke said. “We played with rhythm and had decent chances.”
Fernando Torres, though, noted that his team spent three days in the city and said they “can’t use the conditions as the excuse for the draw.”
Atletico was spearheaded by fan favorites Torres with Raul Garcia and new-signing Yannick Carrasco occupying either flank, while Tosu was without regular goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi and striker Yohei Toyoda due to injuries.
Defender Naoya Kikuchi found Yoshiki Takahashi with a long ball in 11th minute but he saw his strong effort from outside the box go wide and the J. League outfit found chances hard to come by against an organized Atletico side.
Atletico took the lead when Koke swung in a corner from left which goalkeeper Eisuke Fujishima missed and allowed the ball to find its way into the far corner.
Left-back Guilherme Siqueira found Carrasco down the left channel and the Belgian’s first-time cross just evaded Torres, before Siqueira had a 20-yard effort saved by Fujishima.
Torres combined with French international Antoine Griezmann and fired his shot straight at the goalkeeper for the first opening after the break, before substitute Ryosuke Tamura was sent through at the other end but was caught in two minds and shot tamely.
Another of Atletico’s new acquisitions, Luciano Vietto, was denied by Fujishima’s outstretched leg in the 64th minute, before a tenacious display from Sagan was finally rewarded.
Tamura took on Jesus Gamez and beat him on the right flank before his low cross deflected off goalkeeper Miguel Moya and defender Stefan Savic and ended up in the back of the net.
Tiago steered a header wide off Thomas Partey’s cross in the dying seconds to send the game to the shootout, where promising youngster Daichi Kamada struck off the bar and Tamura had his shot saved by Moya before Vietto’s chipped effort settled the match.
Atletico will play a match in China on Tuesday to wrap up its Asian tour.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.