Atletico Madrid closed the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona to five points with a comprehensive 3-0 home win over Real Sociedad at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday.
Antoine Griezmann followed up his winner in the derby against Real Madrid on Saturday with a second-half penalty as Diego Simeone’s side cruised to a third victory in their last four domestic outings.
The hosts were gifted the lead after just eight minutes when Sociedad defender Diego Reyes had the misfortune of turning Koke’s cross into his own net.
Saul Niguez made it 2-0 inside the opening minute of the second half, the midfielder meeting Luciano Vietto’s cross on the volley, before Griezmann converted a spot-kick he had won himself on the hour mark.
But, while second-placed Atleti have reduced the deficit at the summit, Barcelona can restore their eight-point cushion when they face Rayo Vallecano on Thursday.
Sociedad arrived in the Spanish capital having claimed 13 points from their last five La Liga outings, going unbeaten through the month of February while conceding only one goal.
But, despite playing a third game in the space of a week, Atleti made a fast start.
Saul had already fired a shot over the crossbar before the hosts were gifted the lead by Reyes’ error in the eighth minute, even though his goalkeeper, Geronimo Rulli, was waiting behind him to deal with the danger.
Atleti twice saw Rulli deny them a second goal before the break, with forwards Griezmann and Vietto – starting in place of Fernando Torres – both aiming their attempts straight at the keeper.
Diego Godin got his feet in a tangle as he tried to prod the ball into an unguarded net at the far post in the closing minutes of the first half, although it did not take Atleti long after the break to double their lead.
With Sociedad guilty of losing possession deep in their own territory, Vietto cut the ball back from the byline for the supporting Saul to volley home via a deflection off Rulli.
Any slim hope of a comeback for the visitors disappeared when Alberto de la Bella’s nudge sent Griezmann tumbling in the box.
The Frenchman converted from the spot against his old club with what proved to be his last touch before being replaced by Angel Correa.
Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak made sure of a fifth successive clean sheet by diving to keep out a header from one of his own players, substitute Lucas Hernandez coming close to scoring the second own goal of the night.
It would have been a consolation goal Sociedad scarcely deserved, and only an incorrect offside decision denied Correa from adding a fourth goal in the final minute.
Key Opta stats:
– Atletico have only conceded 11 goals in La Liga this season, the best defensive record by a team after the first 27 games.
– Antoine Griezmann has scored in three of his four league appearances against his former side.
– The 3-0 success was Atletico Madrid’s biggest win in a La Liga game at home this season (3-0).
– Luciano Vietto has made more assists than any other Atletico striker this season (5, all competitions).
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