Atletico Madrid ended a three-game winless run in all competitions with a 3-0 victory over Real Betis at a rain-soaked Wanda Metropolitano.
Yannick Carrasco’s superb first-half finish and an own goal from German Pezzella in the second put the champions in control against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Joao Felix came off the bench to drill home a third as Atleti delivered their best league performance since the 2-0 win over Barcelona at the start of the month.
Betis rarely offered a threat to Jan Oblak’s goal as they endured an eighth defeat in nine away league games against Atletico, a run in which they have failed to score in any of the past six games.
William Carvalho had a shot parried by Oblak in the first minute of a match that started in frenetic fashion, Betis looking to capitalise on a defence that had conceded at least twice in each of Atleti’s previous three games.
Jose Gimenez and Antoine Griezmann each came close before Carrasco broke the deadlock in stunning style, taking Angel Correa’s pass, turning away from Martin Montoya and blasting high past Claudio Bravo at his near post.
Luis Suarez headed wide when unmarked and Mario Hermoso saw the flag rule out a second when he nodded in Antoine Griezmann’s delivery, as Atletico continued to push forward.
A fine passing move saw Griezmann pick out Suarez, but Bravo thwarted the striker again. However, from the resulting Griezmann corner, Pezzella mistimed his header and nodded the ball firmly into his own net.
Substitute Felix completed the scoring with a well-taken left-footed finish driven beneath Bravo, a VAR check showing he had timed his run to meet Carrasco’s throughball perfectly.
What does it mean? Champions up into fourth
Atleti’s win lifted them above Betis in the table and to within two points of leaders Real Madrid, second-placed Sevilla and Real Sociedad in third. Sociedad had a game to come later on Sunday, however.
It will also give them some confidence ahead of a Champions League visit to Liverpool in the coming week, particularly after the Reds surrendered a two-goal lead to draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
Bravo keeps scores respectable
Atleti should really have been out of sight before Pezzella’s unfortunate own goal, with Bravo making seven saves as Suarez in particular was profligate with his chances.
The former Barcelona keeper has never before made as many saves in a single LaLiga match.
Suarez needs sharpness
Suarez missed two big chances and had the highest expected goals figure (0.48) of any of Atletico’s attacking players during his 71 minutes on the pitch.
The Uruguay striker will need to be more ruthless against his old club if Atletico are to leave Merseyside with a positive result.
Atleti face Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday before heading to Valencia on November 7 for their final game before the next international break.
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