Saturday 6 December 2014 19:05, UK
Atletico Madrid made light work of a Primera Division trip to Elche, beating Fran Escriba's struggling side 2-0 to record their fifth consecutive win in all competitions.
Nineteen-year old defender Jose Maria Gimenez scored an impressive first goal for Atletico to put the visitors in front after 16 minutes, and Mario Mandzukic then doubled the advantage early in the second half.
This was far from a vintage performance from the champions, who managed just four shots on goal over the 90 minutes at the Estadio Martinez Valero.
However, they did not have to deal with many threats from an Elche side who have now failed to win any of their last five competitive games.
The result allows Atletico to keep pace with title contenders Real Madrid and Barcelona, while Elche remain in the relegation zone.
Atleti boss Diego Simeone made four changes to the team that had beaten Deportivo 2-0 last week, replacing the injured Cristian Ansaldi and Miranda with Guilherme Siquiera and Gimenez respectively.
Captain Gabi returned after a one-game suspension, and Raul Garcia was preferred to Antoine Griezmann.
Elche began the game well, closing down their opponents and moving the ball about quickly and precisely. However, Atletico took the lead with their first opportunity of the game.
Siquiera, Koke and Arda Turan combined down the left-hand side of Elche's area and the Turkish midfielder cut the ball back to Gimenez, who was standing in line with the penalty spot.
The centre-back controlled with his right foot and then pulled the trigger, sending the ball high into the near corner.
However, the goal should not have been allowed to stand, as Arda was a fraction offside when he received the ball from Koke, although none of the Elche players appealed.
The goal knocked took the wind out of Elche's sails and Escriba's side played with less intensity from then on.
Their best attempt of the first half came from a speculative effort from long range by midfielder Faycal Fajr that forced Miguel Angel Moya to dive across his goal and punch the ball out for a corner.
Chelsea loanee Mario Pasalic had the hosts' other attempt of the half, but fired well wide of goal.
Atletico wrapped up the points eight minutes into the second half thanks to a fine combination between Gabi and Mandzukic.
The midfielder set the striker on his way to goal with a ball over the top and the Croatian took one touch to take the ball away from goal and then tucked the ball into the bottom corner, the speed of the ball beating goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton at his near post.
Atletico did not seek to thrash Elche and created few further chances, but the champions were always in control.