Real Madrid may have captured the spotlight this weekend with a thumping win in Zinedine Zidane’s first match in charge, but it was their cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid who lead La Liga following a 2-0 victory at Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Antoine Griezmann’s 14th goal of the campaign and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco’s strike 10 minutes from time helped Diego Simeone’s men to record a 10th win from their past 12 league outings on a sodden night at Balaidos.
The two teams slipped and stumbled through the encounter, which was almost postponed following torrential rain pre-match and finished in a monsoon that forced fans to congregate towards the back of the stands.
The only two moments of real quality ultimately settled the match, as Celta slipped to a third straight La Liga defeat.
Simeone’s men now lead Barcelona by two points, though the Catalan club have two games in hand, and sit four clear of fierce rivals Real Madrid.
Both sides took their time adapting to difficult conditions. Luciano Vietto headed over from Filipe Luis’s cross in the third minute for the visitors, while Iago Aspas had Celta’s first effort on goal in the 21st minute – the former Liverpool striker steered his header wide at the back post – as the two teams huffed and puffed with little end product.
Atletico’s miserly backline, which went into the contest having only conceded eight La Liga goals all season, repelled their hosts with ease, while Celta were equally staunch in defence as goalmouth action was few and far between before the break.
Griezmann blasted over from 15 yards after a neat one-two with Koke, while the latter produced the match’s first shot on target in the 38th minute, before Fabian Orellana tested Jan Oblak in the Atletico goal moments later. Unsurprisingly, there was no breakthrough prior to the half-time whistle.
It took less than four minutes after the restart for the visitors to take the lead. Griezmann’s excellent first-time pass found the run of Vietto down the left and when he crossed to the back post the France international was on hand to slide the ball into an empty net.
The passage of play was the first moment of attacking quality from either side, and soon the stop-start pattern of the game returned.
As the rain became even heavier during the latter stages of the encounter, Carrasco completed the Atleti victory. The Belgian collected a loose ball 35 yards from goal, beat two defenders and fired past Sergio Alvarez to wrap up all three points.
Simeone’s attention now turns to a Copa del Rey match at home to Rayo Vallecano on Thursday, before a trip to face Las Palmas in La Liga next weekend.
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