Nigeria’s Super Falcons forward Rasheedat Ajibade was on the scoresheet on Saturday as her La Liga Iberdrola side Atlético de Madrid Femenino started the 2021/2022 campaign in the best way possible with a 5-0 trouncing of Rayo Vallecano, at the Ciudad Deportiva de Alcalá.
The derby victory was delivered in style with the Madrid club not only opening their season with a flurry of goals but a marker to show their readiness to rediscover that typical competitiveness that seemed to have eluded the side last season.
Buoyed by the desire to win more than the Spanish Women’s Super Cup they clinched in January, the Óscar Fernández side did not waste any time to get the season goal-scoring up and running and found the net as early as the ninth minute.
The goal was special for Atletico as it came from their new signing Maitane López, who joined from another La Liga Iberdrola side Real Sociedad before the start of the 2021/2022 season. She was given a first-team start and marked her first game with a debut goal for the opening score of the Atletico team this season.
The hosts controlled the game, imposing a high rhythm of play on the Vallecano. Some chances to increase their lead came and went with the visitors managing to prevent an early double deficit. An attempt by Deyna Castellanos almost went in but Patricia Larqué Juste, in goal for Vallecano, kept it out.
But Juste could not do anything about Ajibade’s goal three minutes after the half-hour mark. The Nigerian striker created space for herself to increase the difference after gaining from a beautiful assist by fellow forward Bárbara Latorre. It went from two to three goals before the break with the Vallecano club finding it difficult to leave their half. Laia Aleixandri powered a great shot beyond Juste a minute before the interval.
It was more of the same in the second half. Atletico kept the high press and peppered the Vallecano backline. The pressure began to fall on the defenders, especially Paula Andújar Jiménez and María Bores Vázquez, the pair of centre-backs for Vallecano. But for the alertness of Juste, Vallecano could have conceded a lot more.
The keeper was again called into action to parry attempts by the hosts to get a fourth goal at the hour mark and did enough to hold the score at three goals in their disadvantage before Jimenez was penalized for an infringement in the box that gave Ajibade’s team the chance to increase their goals via a spot-kick.
This time Castellanos will not be denied as she stepped up to convert eight minutes after the hour mark. Then, in the 77th minute, Aleixandri scored to finish the game off as a contest with her second goal of the day and to cap off an outstanding individual and team performance.
Although Barcelona Femeni had played a 5-0 opening game earlier than Ajibade’s club, it was Atletico that scaled over to take the top of the table after Matchday one with equal points and goal difference as Barca.
Atletico will play another derby on Matchday two when they take on Real Madrid women on Sunday, September 12 at Real’s Ciudad Deportiva Real Madrid Campo 11 grounds. It will be a strong and early test of their pedigree this season.