Vila-real, Spain, Feb 28 (EFE).- Atletico Madrid on Sunday took home three ranking points after its 2-0 road win over Villarreal, a match in which the capital squad was decisively better than the hosts, exhibiting effective offense and showing off its prowess in defending its net.
As is usual during these Covid-19 pandemic times, the match was played to empty stands due to government-mandated gathering restrictions.
The tallies came on an own goal by Alfonso Pedraza midway through the first half and then Joao Felix blasted in a fiery shot to put Diego Simeone’s boys up by two midway through the second.
Although Atletico sits atop the La Liga rankings, the squad had fumbled a few matches garnering just five points in their last four league outings, thus enabling Barcelona and Real Madrid to pull within striking distance of the title, and the capital team had just lost to Chelsea in Champions League action.
But, although the match on Sunday was hard-fought, and Villarreal got close to scoring a number of times, Atletico seemed to be clearly in the driver’s seat The first own-goal tally was credited to Atletico after a lengthy VAR review determined that Stefan Savic, who had initially been credited with the goal, had been offside before Thomas Lemar’s pass.
Sergio Asenjo had saved Savic’s header but the ball bounced off Pedraza and into the net.
Gerard Moreno had a chance to get Villarreal on the board on a pass from Daniel Parejo but he failed to finish properly.
Luis Suarez might have gotten the capital squad a second point just a few minutes after play resumed after the intermission but, although he capitalized nicely on a defensive breakdown his scorching shot-on-goal was denied by a quick-reacting Asenjo.
But Felix was on hand to make it 2-0 in the 69th minute after Pau Torres did not effectively clear the ball and he smashed his shot into the net from just outside the penalty area.
After the match, Simeone said that his team had “suffered, and even after the second goal they had good chances. But we come home with a very important victory at this point in the season.”
The win puts Atletico five points ahead of Barcelona and six points ahead of Real Madrid.
Villarreal: Asenjo, Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza (Estupiñan, m.60), Capoue (Jaume Costa, m.71), Parejo, Trigueros (Baena, m.71), Chukwueze, Moi Gomez (Carlos Bacca, m.60) and Gerard Moreno.
Atletico: Oblak, Vrsaljko, Savic, Felipe, Hermoso, Saul, Koke, Llorente, Lemar (Joao Felix, m,.46), Correa (Torreira, m.83) and Luis Suarez (Kondogbia, m.75)
Referee:De Burgos Bengoetxea showed yellow cards to Villarreal’s Albiol and Jaime Costa and to Atletico Madrid’s Felipe, Lemar and Saul.