Atletico Madrid got their LaLiga title tilt back on track as Angel Correa’s fortunate goal secured a hard-fought 2-1 win over Granada.
Diego Simeone’s team saw an eight-match winning streak in the league come to an end when they were pegged back by Celta Vigo on Monday.
Real Madrid and Barcelona looked to be getting another favour when Granada substitute Yangel Herrera cancelled out Marcos Llorente’s 63rd-minute opener on Saturday.
The unusually profligate Luis Suarez had gone close to breaking the deadlock numerous times, hitting the crossbar and finding Rui Silva in fine form, but a fifth successive away win seemed set to evade Atleti.
However, a huge slice of luck went Atleti’s way when Correa’s strike deflected in off Jesus Vallejo to settle the contest and move the visitors eight points clear.
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— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 13, 2021
Correa let Granada off the hook when he poked a one-v-one straight at Silva, before German Sanchez headed Granada’s first opportunity wide.
Geoffrey Kondogbia’s surging run resulted in an opening for Suarez three minutes later, but LaLiga’s leading scorer could not generate enough curl to pick out the far corner.
Kondogbia and Suarez combined again 30 minutes in, yet Silva was equal to the latter’s powerful effort, with Granada’s goalkeeper denying Atleti’s number nine again soon after.
Suarez went closer after the restart – a half-volley clipping away off the bar.
Another opportunity fell Suarez’s way before the hour, but the former Barca star could not take the ball under control in the six-yard box.
Llorente finally found the opener when he drilled in from the edge of the box for his seventh league goal of 2020-21, but despite creating little of note, Granada snatched a swift equaliser three minutes later as Atleti failed to clear a corner and Herrera’s effort deflected beyond Jan Oblak.
Yet Atleti had a deflection go in their favour 16 minutes from time, Silva helpless to prevent Correa’s shot from looping in after Vallejo’s attempted block.
What does it mean? Madrid man Vallejo hands Atleti the advantage
On loan from Los Blancos, Vallejo dealt his parent club a blow with his effort at an intervention which ultimately did for Granada.
Barca are in action against Deportivo Alaves in Saturday’s late match and a win would take them level with Madrid, who play Valencia on Sunday. After this round of fixtures, Atleti will have a game in hand on Ronald Koeman’s Blaugrana, and a two-game advantage on the reigning champions.
Correa earns his luck
With his winner, however fortunate, Correa has now been involved in eight goals against Granada in LaLiga (five goals and three assists), more than against any other opponent in the competition.
The Argentine forward also created three chances, a game-high, along with the impressive Kondogbia.
Suarez not made to pay for his misses
Suarez has undoubtedly been the signing of the season in LaLiga, and it is his goals which are propelling Atleti towards the title.
However, the 34-year-old – who has been involved in 12 goals in eight LaLiga appearances against Granada – was not at his clinical best on Saturday, with only one of his four efforts finding the target, while the offside flag sparred his blushes for a late miss when one-on-one with Silva late on. Nevertheless, even without their talisman on top form, Atleti claimed the points.
There’s a double-header against Levante coming up for Atleti, who play the Valencia team on Wednesday and Saturday. Granada, meanwhile, are in Europa League action on Thursday, hosting Napoli.