Sports Desk, Jan 21 (EFE).- Atletico Madrid thumped Valladolid 3-0 Saturday to firm up their grasp on fourth place in LaLiga and gain a measure of confidence ahead of a Copa del Rey quarterfinal clash next week with Real Madrid.
After winning just once in their last six LaLiga matches, the Colchoneros exploded for three goals in 10 minutes against Valladolid and would have had more but for the posts and some fine saves by visiting goalkeeper Jordi Masip.
Atleti improved to 31 points, 3 better than 5th-place Villarreal, while Valladolid drop to 18th as a result of their loss and Sevilla’s 1-0 win against Cadiz.
Supporters at Madrid’s Civitas Metropolitano were treated to the kind of solid, comfortable victory that they have come to expect since Diego Simeone became Atletico coach in December 2011, but have been few and far between this season.
With only 47 percent possession, the hosts outshot the visitors 18-7, and Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak only had to make one stop – in the 71st minute.
The decisive stretch began in the 18th minute, when Alvaro Morata opened the scoring with an exquisite assist from Antoine Griezmann, who made it 2-0 five minutes later.
The French international also figured in the third goal for Atletico, sending a free-kick into the area for Mario Hermoso in the 28th minute.
Masip stopped the initial effort, but Hermoso beat him on the rebound.
In the second half, Morata fired over the cross-bar and both Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco were denied by the woodwork.
Carrasco went on to force two saves from Masip. Both of those chances were created by Memphis Depay in his first appearance since coming over to Atleti from Barcelona. EFE