Atlético Madrid edged ahead of Sevilla to go third in La Liga, as Joao Felix returned from injury to score a decisive third goal to help Diego Simeone’s side to a convincing 3-1 victory over Villarreal.
Having issued the almighty Liverpool with a reality check during the week, Atléti looked as if they might come crashing back down to earth themselves within 15 minutes of kick-off.
Paco Alcacer took a pass from Gerard Moreno around 20 yards from goal, and from nowhere he let loose with an absolute howitzer at which Jan Oblak could only wave at on its way into the top corner.
Simeone’s side were second best for most of the first half, but they did have the better of the chances, and found themselves level five minutes before the break. The lively Angel Correa brought down an inviting floater from Sime Vrsaljko, and showed his ruthlessness as he dispatched the ball coolly past the onrushing Sergio Asenjo from close range.
From there, it did seem like there would only be one winner. The crucial goal arrived 20 minutes into the second half, with Correa turning provider to pick out Koke in the area, who powered a header past Asenjo and gave the atmosphere around Wanda Metropolitano a much-needed lift.
Kieran Trippier and Felix returned from injury as they emerged from the bench, and the latter wasted no time in getting in on the goalscoring action.
His third goal of the season arrived when the irrepressible Koke won possession in the final third and picked him out on the edge of the area. Felix had one thing on his mind as he turned towards goal, and his left-footed effort squirmed under Asenjo to put the game beyond doubt.
Villarreal had a go at getting back into it with Santi Cazorla going close, but the damage had been done. It was Atlético who picked up an impressive three points that put them within ten of the top two, while the visitors sink to seventh – albeit just five off Sunday’s victors.
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