Atlético look unstoppable as Real Madrid falter
Atlético Madrid are now 10 points clear at the top of La Liga with a game in hand, after beating Cadiz by four goals to two on Sunday.
Within the first half hour, Luis Suarez scored a Beckamesque free-kick from the left, a long range curler that swerved the ball into the top left corner, leaving the goalkeeper and wall of defenders with no chance.
Seven minutes later, Álvaro Negredo pegged one back for the home side with a swerving strike of his own, this one from open play.
But celebrations were short-lived, as just before the first half drew to a close Saúl Ñíguez stuck a leg out to get on the end of Thomas Lemar’s cross. Presumably to his own surprise, the ball flicked upwards off his boot, and over the defence and keeper to land perfectly in the top corner.
Five minutes into the second half, Lemar was bundled over in the box by Marcos Mauro, allowing Suarez to score his second goal of the game from the penalty spot.
Negredo was able to restore some hope for the Andalusians with a scrappy goal in the 71st minute, but the runaway league leaders killed off the game just two minutes from the end when Koke casually tapped in a pass from Ángel Correra.
Although it is still early days to assume anyone has won the title, it is becoming increasingly hard to see anyone stopping Atlético from going all the way this season, something they did seven years ago, much to the surprise of the football world.
Stopping Atlético depends on the results of their title rivals, and it was here where reigning champions Real Madrid came up short this week by losing at home to Levante.
It was a nightmare start for Zidane’s side. Just nine minutes into the game they were down to ten men. Eder Militao was given a straight red after taking down the last man from behind and preventing a clear opportunity on goal.
But to Madrid’s credit, they responded in perfect fashion by taking the lead through Marco Asensio who fired in after a bursting sprint.
A half-volley from José Luís Morales, just after the half hour mark, made the score level again and reminded Real Madrid that they were in for a tough afternoon.
If it hadn’t been for the heroics of Thibaut Courtois, the Valencian side would have gone in front in the 64th minute, but Roger Martí’s penalty was palmed away by the Belgian shot-stopper.
Yet Martí would later redeem himself, winning the tie with a low and powerful strike in the 78th minute, denting Real Madrid’s title chances and undoubtedly causing celebrations from those Atlético fans following the score of their rivals.
It is Barcelona who now sit in second place, moving up following a 2-1 home win against Athletic Bilbao in which Lionel Messi scored his 650th goal for the club.
Jordi Alba’s subsequent own goal did not result in disaster as Antoine Griezmann later ensured his side took all three points by tapping in a simple pass from Mingueza.
Sunday 31 January
Getafe 0 – 0 Alaves
Cadiz 2 – 4 Atletico Madrid
Granada 0 – 0 Celta Vigo
Barcelona 2 – 1 Athletic Bilbao
Saturday 30 January
Eibar 0 – 2 Sevilla
Real Madrid 1 – 2 Levante
Valencia 1 – 0 Elche
Villarreal 1 – 1 Real Sociedad
Friday 29 January
Real Valladolid 1 – 3 SD Huesca
Monday 25 January
Athletic Bilbao 5 – 1 Getafe
Copa del Rey
Thursday 28 January
Navalcarnero 0 – 6 Granada
Alcoyano 1 – 2 Athletic Bilbao
Wednesday 27 January
Sevilla 3 – 0 Valencia
Almería 0 – Osasuna (AET Almería win 5-4 on penalties)
Rayo Vallecano 1 – 2 Barcelona
Tuesday 26 January
Real Valladolid 2 – 4 Levante
Girona 0 – 1 Villarreal
Real Betis 3 – 1 Real Sociedad (AET)