Atletico Madrid 3-1 Sevilla: Antoine Griezmann stars as hosts close gap on top three
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 20/03/17 1:02am
Antoine Griezmann scored one sensational free-kick and set up another goal as Atletico Madrid secured a 3-1 victory over Sevilla on Sunday.
Atleti took a deserved lead after a well worked free-kick routine saw Griezmann pick out Diego Godin in the box, with the defender heading past Sergio Rico to open the scoring 37 minutes in.
Griezmann then took centre stage just after the hour mark, curling a superb free-kick in off the under side of the crossbar, before Koke made sure of the victory 13 minutes from time.
Joaquin Correa netted a late consolation for Sevilla but it wasn't enough as Atleti moved to within two points of their opponents in third and, importantly, ensured they have a better head-to-head record over Jorge Sampaoli's men, which will make all the difference should the sides finish level on points at the end of the season.
Sevilla were penned in their half for much of the opening period, with a full strength Atletico Madrid causing Los Nervionenses plenty of problems.
Kevin Gameiro almost got on the scoresheet against his former club in the 14th minute, but his chipped effort was tipped onto the bar by Rico in the visitors' goal.
Sevilla claimed they should have had a penalty in the 34th minute after Wissam Ben Yedder attempted to round keeper Jan Oblak only to tumble to the floor.
Referee Jesus Gil Manzano took a long, hard look before shaking his head and replays proved he was right, as Jan Oblak had taken his hand away and made no contact with Ben Yedder.
And three minutes later Atletico made the breakthrough after a bizarre foul by Adil Rami, who was on the ground yet penalised for trying to head the ball away from Carrasco's feet.
Griezmann floated the free-kick into the area to where defender Godin had been left completely unmarked to plant a powerful header past Rico.
The France international should have doubled the advantage shortly after half-time following a delightful exchange of passes, he took Gameiro's ball into the penalty area in his stride but slipped his shot the wrong side of the near post.
As the hour mark approached, Carrasco threaded another pass into the box, this time into the path of Gameiro, but his touch was poor and Rico was able to save.
The second goal eventually arrived in the 61st minute and it was worth the wait as Griezmann curled the ball over the wall into the net. The pace, curl and accuracy provided further proof that 25-year-old is really at the top of his game.
Koke wrapped up the victory with 12 minutes remaining, tapping into an empty net after Rico palmed Juanfran's cross into his path, before substitute Correa pulled one back with a late burst forward and cool finish - the first goal Atleti have conceded in four matches.
After an early season stutter, the Rojiblancos have found form at a crucial time, and with Sevilla struggling to replicate their early season prowess, a real battle for third place looks set to take place between now and the end of the season.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Sporting Gijon grabbed their first win in six matches with a 3-1 success over relegation rivals Granada.
After a goalless first half the vistors took the lead through Iceland defender Sverrir Ingi Ingason's 51st-minute tap-in.
But nine minutes later Lacina Traore equalised after he was teed up by on-loan Real Madrid winger Burgui.
In the 64th-minute Sporting took the lead when Jean-Sylvain Babin headed in Sergio Alvarez's corner, and three minutes later Carlos Carmona thumped in the third.
The hosts could even afford to miss an 82nd-minute penalty, Guillermo Ochoa saving Traore's effort, and climb above Granada into 18th.
A solitary goal from Iago Aspas was enough to earn Celta Vigo a 1-0 win at Deportivo.
The former Liverpool forward tapped in a cross from Claudio Beauvue with 16 minutes remaining.
In Sunday's early kick-off lowly Leganes and Malaga fought out a goalless draw.