Atletico re­turn to win­ning ways

New Straits Times - - Sport -

We made a state­ment of author­ity in the first half and could have scored more.

DIEGO SIME­ONE

Atletico man­ager

Atletico Madrid’s French for­wards An­toine Griez­mann and Kevin Gameiro fired them to a first win in three league out­ings as they beat Valencia 3-0 on Sun­day to main­tain their hold on Spain’s fourth Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing place.

Top scorer Griez­mann latched onto a through ball from Koke to ar­row a first-time fin­ish into the bot­tom cor­ner in the 10th minute, while Gameiro notched his 10th league goal this sea­son three min­utes af­ter the break with the help of a de­flec­tion.

Griez­mann then rounded off the scor­ing in the 83rd when he pounced on an over-hit pass from team­mate Thomas Partey and poked home to score his 12th league goal of the cam­paign.

It was a cru­cial vic­tory for Atletico, who lost to Barcelona last week­end and suf­fered a dis­ap­point­ing 1-1 draw at De­portivo La Coruna on Thurs­day.

Club favourite Fer­nando Tor­res sat in the stands af­ter re­cov­er­ing from head trauma sus­tained against De­portivo and was given a stand­ing ova­tion by sup­port­ers in the se­cond half.

“It was a fan­tas­tic per­for­mance af­ter play­ing on Thurs­day, we re­sponded very well phys­i­cally and man­aged the game well,” Atletico coach Diego Sime­one told re­porters. “We made a state­ment of author­ity in the first half and could have scored more.”

De­portivo con­tin­ued their im­prove­ment un­der new coach Pepe Mel as they picked up their first league win of 2017 on Sun­day by beat­ing fel­low strug­glers Sport­ing Gi­jon 1-0 away from home to move four points clear of the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

Mel’s first game in charge was Thurs­day’s 1-1 draw with Atletico, which halted a four-game los­ing streak un­der his sacked pre­de­ces­sor Gaizka Gar­i­tano.

For­mer Real Madrid for­ward Jese scored twice as Las Pal­mas won their first game in six league out­ings by thrash­ing base­ment club Osasuna 5-2. Jese found the net for the first time since join­ing his home­town club on loan from Paris St Ger­main at the end of Jan­uary.

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