Atletico Madrid tighten grip on 4th with win over Athletic

Sports Desk, Feb 19 (EFE).- A moment of brilliance from Antoine Griezmann made the difference Sunday for hosts Atletico Madrid in a 1-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao that extended the Colchoneros’ unbeaten streak in LaLiga to four.

Atleti improved to 41 points, 4 more than Real Betis, their chief rival in the fight for fourth place and the ticket to the Champions League that comes with it. Athletic remain seventh on 32 points.

Athletic showed plenty of ambition at Madrid’s Civitas Metropolitano, especially in the first half, but were hurt by a lack of quality in the final third, as when Dani Garcia sent his shot high on a chance to score before the break.

And on the two occasions when Athletic put a shot on target, Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak proved equal to the task, while defender Reinildo Mandava helped keep threats to a minimum.

Athletic’s Julen Agirrezabala was a lot busier at the other end of the pitch, yet he managed to keep a clean sheet until the 73rd minute.

The pace quickened in the second half and both keepers – Agirrezabala against Yannick Carrasco, Oblak facing Nico Williams – made outstanding saves to maintain the 0-0 deadlock into the final 20 minutes.

It was then that Griezmann made his move, making a solo charge from the halfway line before beating the Athletic keeper with a slanting blast.

The French international also scored the only goal in Atleti’s early victory against Athletic in Bilbao. EFE id/dr

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