Manchester United have been given fresh encouragement ahead of their Champions League Round of 16 tie against Atletico Madrid following another chaotic performance from the Spanish champions.
Diego Simeone’s side edged out a pulsating 4-3 victory at home to lowly Getafe with a last-minute winner in their Saturday night La Liga encounter but despite their triumph, alarming signs continued.
They have won just eight of their last 22 matches across all competitions, while Luis Suarez missed a penalty and was subbed off just after the hour mark in another low-key performance.
Most worryingly of all, they shipped another three goals – meaning they have conceded two goals or more in each of their last six matches and nine of their last 11 in all competitions.
Mario Hermoso scored deep into injury time to score a scrappy, if hard-fought, victory against a side who have yet to win away from home in this La Liga campaign.
Suarez was thwarted from the penalty spot by Getafe goalkeeper David Soria in the ninth minute – his weak effort saved after the Uruguayan slyly won the spot kick after initiating contact with Soria inside the area.
Atleti did not need to wait long to break the deadlock as Angel Correa gave them the lead, despite huge protestations from the visitors that defender Djene was felled by Matheus Cunha in the build-up.
Cunha soon got in on the act, as he doubled Atleti’s lead from close-range following a flowing counter-attack – to seemingly put the game beyond the reach of the visitors.
Getafe had scored just three goals in their last 14 away matches in La Liga, yet they were to equal that goal return with a remarkable 12-minute goal blitz.
Borja Mayoral fired home after Los Rojiblancos failed to clear a set piece delivery to halve the deficit, before Enes Unal fired past Jan Oblak from the penalty spot after a handball in the area.
With three minutes of the half remaining, Turkish striker Unal fired home another penalty after Thomas Lemar’s handball in a stunning turn of events.
Remarkably, Correa netted his second and Atleti’s third of the game in the third minute of first half stoppage time to ensure a share of the spoils at the break.
Going into this game, there had been nine red cards in the previous nine encounters between these two sides and that rate of sendings off was maintained as Atletico defender Felipe was shown a straight red for a late high boot on Getafe’s Mauro Arambarri.
Mario Hermoso is mobbed by his Atletico Madrid teammates after his late winner
Yet Quique Sanchez Flores’s Getafe failed to take advantage of their numerical supremacy and were made to pay for their lack of intent in the closing stages.
After conceding a cheap free-kick, Los Azulones failed to defend a delivery into the box to allow substitute defender Hermoso to hook home a dramatic winner.
Simeone’s side will host Manchester United in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash on 23 February before travelling to Old Trafford on 15 March.