Morata scores twice as Atlético debuts with win at Getafe
MADRID (AP) — The decision to keep Álvaro Morata is already paying off for Atlético Madrid.
Morata scored twice on Monday as Atlético began its Spanish league campaign with a 3-0 win at Getafe. Antoine Griezmann also scored coming off the bench, with João Félix setting up all three goals for the visitors.
There had been doubts about whether Atlético would keep Morata after his two-year loan with Juventus ended. Some teams, including Juventus and Manchester United, reportedly had shown interest.
But Morata impressed in the preseason — which included a hat trick against Juventus — and Atlético ultimately decided it was worth keeping the 29-year-old striker.
“I don’t need to send any messages,” Morata said. “I have to keep working for myself and for my team. It was important to start with a victory. I think it’s going to be a great year.”
It didn’t take long on Monday for Morata to show Atlético was right. He scored with a well-placed low shot from the top of the area after a nice one-touch pass by João Félix in the 15th minute, then picked up another superb assist from the Portugal youngster to hit the top of the net from inside the area in the 59th.
“He is doing well, he works hard,” Atlético coach Diego Simeone said. “Everyone at the club hopes he will stay with us.”
Griezmann came off the bench and sealed the victory with a shot from outside the area in the 75th.
Atlético finished third in the Spanish league last year, behind Barcelona and champions Real Madrid.
Madrid won 2-1 at promoted Almería on Sunday, while Barcelona drew 0-0 at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
Real Betis opened with a comfortable 3-0 win against Elche at home despite not being able to use several of its new signings because of the league’s salary cap regulations.
Juanmi Jiménez scored twice and Borja Iglesias added another for the hosts, who played with an extra man since the 16th after Elche midfielder John Chetauya Donald was sent off with a straight red card.
Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini could not count on players like Claudio Bravo, Willian José and Joaquín Sánchez because of the team’s salary cap problems.
Betis is coming off a great season in which it won the Copa del Rey and finished fifth in the Spanish league.
Elche finished 13th last season.
Athletic Bilbao was held at home to a 0-0 draw against Mallorca in the return of coach Ernesto Valverde to the Basque Country club.
Athletic dominated from the start but could not capitalize on its scoring chances. The hosts had more than 20 attempts at San Mamés Stadium.
Valverde, who hadn’t coached since leaving Barcelona in 2020, is back for his third stint at Athletic’s helm.
The Basque club finished only eighth last season, missing out on the European competitions. Mallorca barely escaped relegation, finishing one point outside the relegation zone.
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