Angel Correa scored his second league goal of the season to help Atletico Madrid to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Real Betis that moved Diego Simeone’s men to the top of LaLiga.
The two sides went into the game with the same amount of points but Diego Simeone’s strikers struggled for long periods as Betis left them little room to manoeuvre.
Nikola Kalinic made his first LaLiga start for Atletico following his €15m transfer from AC Milan and he hit the post as the hosts probed for a second-half winner.
Substitute Correa turned the game through sheer determination, winning possession before driving home a winning goal.
Loren Moron had the chance to give the visitors an early lead when he broke through the middle of the Atleti defence but he dragged a low drive well wide of Jan Oblak’s goal.
Quique Setien’s steely Betis side enjoyed the better of first-half possession and successfully kept the ball away from Antoine Griezmann and Kalinic, despite failing to create many chances of their own.
Koke’s incisive long pass put Griezmann in for Atletico’s first shot on target that Pau Lopez saved early in the second half, and moments later the France international teed up Kalinic, who thumped a low shot against the post from the edge of the box.
Atletico found some momentum and Lopez almost spilled Rodrigo’s raking drive before Griezmann again played in Kalinic, whose first-time shot from 10 yards out was saved by Lopez, diving down to his left.
Simeone’s personnel changes made the difference in the 74th minute when Correa combined with fellow substitute Thomas Partey to pull Betis apart and drive the winning goal into the bottom left corner of the net from 20 yards.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) October 7, 2018
What it means: Atleti back among the title chasers
After a tough start to the season, Atletico’s run of three wins from their last four league games – which included a goalless draw at Real Madrid – has put them back among LaLiga’s pace-setters, but goals remain hard to come by for Los Rojiblancos.
Koke’s guile is Simeone’s secret weapon
The game was deadlocked until Koke came to life early in the second half and started to unpick Betis with his range of passing and remarkable vision, the midfielder getting the home crowd behind their team after a tricky opening 45 minutes.
Kalinic must take his chances
Croatian striker Kalinic was involved in some of Atletico’s best attacking moves on his full league debut but squandered two golden chances and will need to learn quickly that such opportunities are few and far between in LaLiga.
Atletico’s first game after the international break sees them travel to struggling Villarreal, while Betis face a stern test at home against in-form Real Valladolid.
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