Atletico Madrid put the pressure firmly back on Barcelona in the title race thanks to a 3-0 win over Granada on Sunday.
Diego Simeone’s side knocked the holders out of the Champions League this week and moved level on points with the Liga leaders thanks to a comfortable win at the Vicente Calderon against a team without a victory since March 3.
Koke struck from close range to give Atletico an early advantage and Fernando Torres’s third strike in as many league games gave them an unassailable advantage, before Angel Correa netted his fourth league goal of the season late on.
Granada, whose four draws in a row had been just enough to keep them a point above the drop zone going into the weekend, struck the crossbar through Ruben Rochina in the first half but struggled to threaten a defence which has conceded just 16 times in La Liga all season.
Atleti – who lost Yannick Ferreira Carrasco to a knock early in the second half – were comfortable in holding on to their lead despite a late rally from the visitors, and will now hope to see Barca drop further points to keep their title hopes alive.
4 – Ángel Correa has scored more goals than any other substitute in La Liga this season. Whip.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 17, 2016
It took Atleti just a quarter of an hour to take the lead against a side they have not lost to in La Liga since 1973.
Torres’ scuffed effort from 12 yards out saw the ball break kindly to Koke, who drilled low past Andres Fernandez.
Rochina fired narrowly past Jan Oblak’s right-hand post with a good strike on the turn inside the area in the 28th minute, and he came agonisingly close to an equaliser just three minutes later as he hit the woodwork with a fierce shot from 20 yards.
Atleti were dealt a blow when Carrasco was forced off 10 minutes into the second half, and Granada kept the home side at arm’s length until just before the hour mark, when Koke and Torres combined again to devastating effect.
Koke threaded a fine pass through the heart of the visiting defence, and Torres took the ball into his stride before lifting it over the onrushing Fernandez and into the far corner.
Granada showed a little more attacking abandon as the game entered its final third and David Barral should have done better when he headed Rochina’s free-kick over the bar from six yards out, but any resistance was killed off seven minutes from time.
Substitute Correa latched onto Saul Niguez’s pass as Atleti broke forward, and the Argentine slotted confidently beneath Fernandez from close range.
Jose Gonzalez’s side had no response in the closing minutes, making Thursday’s clash with second-from-bottom Levante a must-win game in their bid to stay clear of the drop.
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