Atletico Madrid went third in LaLiga after doubles from Joao Felix and Luis Suarez sealed a 4-1 victory over lowly Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.
It had looked like Diego Simeone’s side would be denied a sixth straight top-flight win when Gonzalo Escalante cancelled out Joao Felix’s opener in the 63rd minute.
However, Suarez’s penalty and Joao Felix’s second wrapped up maximum points at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Suarez prodded in a fourth in the 90th minute as Atleti moved level with second-placed Sevilla on 57 points, although Julen Lopetegui’s side do have a game in hand.
Atleti thought they had opened the scoring in the ninth minute, yet Thomas Lemar’s finish was ruled out for offside.
They went ahead two minutes later, though, as an unmarked Joao Felix superbly headed Sime Vrsaljko’s cross into Fernando Pacheco’s top-left corner.
Yet a sluggish start to the second half meant Atleti had to wait until the hour mark for another clear sight of goal, Marcos Llorente whipping wide from just outside the area.
Atleti were made to pay when Escalante stole into the area and headed Edgar Mendez’s sumptuous cross past Jan Oblak.
However, Florian Lejeune fouled substitute Matheus Cunha in the area and Suarez duly slammed his penalty down the middle.
Joao Felix got his second in the 82nd minute with a venomous close-range effort after Cunha’s initial shot had been saved.
Suarez added gloss to the scoreline in the 90th minute with a cool finish after being played in by the hugely influential Cunha.
BIG DUB. pic.twitter.com/OhlDDqVRfr
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) April 2, 2022
What does it mean? Late show maintains Atleti’s winning run
Atleti started at a breakneck pace following an emotional pre-match tribute to Simeone’s father, Carlos, who died last month, but they failed to put the game out of Alaves’ reach before Escalante’s excellent header.
They had no issues taking their chances in the closing stages, however, with that late rally ensuring a sixth consecutive LaLiga win for the first time since January last year when they won eight on the spin. Atleti are 12 points shy of leaders Real Madrid, but look good for a Champions League place.
Joao Felix in the thick of it… again
It was another fantastic display from Joao Felix. The Portugal international has now been involved in eight goals in his last six games in all competitions (six goals, two assists), which is the same as his 33 games before that (four goals, four assists).
Antoine Griezmann was replaced by Suarez shortly after the hour mark and the France international might struggle to win his place back after his team-mate’s decisive contribution. Griezmann failed to have a single shot during his time on the pitch and only played one key pass.
Credit also has to go to Suarez’s fellow substitute Cunha, who played a part in all three of Atleti’s second-half goals.
Atleti travel to England to face Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, before visiting Real Mallorca in LaLiga. Alaves, meanwhile, are away at Osasuna next Sunday.
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