Atletico Madrid reaffirmed their title hopes with a crucial 2-0 victory over Villarreal on Sunday, after a series of disappointing results.
Diego Simeone’s side was coming off back-to-back defeats to Levante and Chelsea, but they took the lead in the 25th minute thanks to Alfonso Pedraza’s own goal after a goalmouth scramble, which was initially flagged offside but later awarded after a VAR analysis.
Just before halftime, Atletico survived another video review when Thomas Lemar was given a yellow rather than a red card for elbowing an opponent, before record signing Joao Felix came off the bench to double their lead on the volley in the 69th minute.
With their first victory in four games in all competitions, Atletico Madrid now has 58 points after 24 games, five more than second-placed Barcelona, who have played 25 games, and six more than third-placed Real Madrid.
True face Real Sociedad at home on Monday before heading to Atletico Madrid for a critical game in the title race the following Sunday.
“This win gives us a lot of confidence and puts us back on track, and we’re looking forward to the derby now,” Stefan Savic said.
“This was a vital game on a tough ground for us; we were on a losing streak, but we stood tall.”
Villarreal has fallen to the seventh position in the table with 37 points and has not won in their last seven league games.
Unai Emery’s side took the game to Atletico Madrid early on, but was unable to build any real danger and was ultimately defeated by a set-piece.
Thomas Lemar whipped a corner towards the far post, which Savic nodded across the goal, where it was bundled in by Pedraza inadvertently.
Moreno scuffed a shot that keeper Jan Oblak saved, and Atletico captain Koke had to scramble the loose ball off the line. Villarreal had a great opportunity to equalize before halftime when Moreno scuffed a shot that keeper Jan Oblak saved.