Luis Suarez scored the winner as Atletico Madrid extended their lead at the top of La Liga to six points with a narrow 1-0 home win over Alaves.
Joao Felix dropped out of the team that lost to Chelsea in the Champions League during the week through suspension with Angel Correa and Mario Hermoso starting for Atleti, who desperately needed a win to maintain their lead at the top of La Liga.
Alaves started the better of the two teams as Joselu and on-loan Manchester United winger Facundo Pellestri threatened, with Suarez striking wide of the near post at the end of the first half. Atletico Madrid started the second half with more energy and found the breakthrough after 54 minutes when Suarez got on the end of a Kieran Trippier cross into the box, glancing a header in off the inside of the far post.
Suarez strikes at the death to send Atleti top
Diego Simeone’s side struggled to find top gear throughout, but looked to be cruising to three points until Stefan Savic was penalised for an elbow into the face of Luis Rioja inside the box. However, Jan Oblak bailed out his side with a stunning penalty save from Joselu.
The result sees Atletico Madrid edge closer to their first league title since 2014 with rivals Barcelona set to face Real Sociedad later on Sunday evening.
TALKING POINT - The international break comes at the perfect time for Atleti
Atletico Madrid returned to winning ways here, but their performance was still underwhelming at home to a team fighting relegation. Simeone’s players have looked tired and weary for a number of weeks and so the international break looks to have come at the right time for them. What’s more, a number of Atleti’s South American internationals are restricted from travelling. They will have a proper break for the next fortnight. This could prove to be a factor in the title race.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
While Suarez scored the goal to clinch all three points for Atletico Madrid, it was Oblak who provided a moment that could potentially define the club’s whole season. When the Slovenian was called upon, he delivered with a late penalty save to stop Atleti from dropping yet more points. Spain boasts the best collection of goalkeepers of any league in Europe and Oblak might just be the pick of the bench on this showing.
Image credit: Eurosport
Atletico Madrid - Oblak 8, Trippier 8, Savic 4, Gimenez 6, Hermoso 6, Carrasco 6, Llorente 7, Koke 6, Lemar 6, Correa 5, Suarez 8. Subs - Herrera 4, Saul 4.
Alaves - Pacheco 7, Navarro 6, Laguardia 5, Lejeune 6, Duarte 6, Pellistri 7, Battaglia 5, Pons 6, Peleteiro 5, Joselu 7, Mendez 5. Subs - Rodriguez 5, Rioja 6, Sainz 4, Mahmoud 3.
14’ NO PENALTY KICK! Edgar had his hand above his head when challenging for an aerial ball, and the ball certainly struck his arm, but the referee has decided it didn't warrant a spot kick after a VAR check!
24’ Big chance for Joselu! That could and perhaps should have been the opening goal! Alaves win the ball high up the field, Pons feeds Joselu, but his shot is blocked by Savic on the stretch!
41’ SUAREZ... inches wide! The Atletico Madrid forward drives to the edge of the box with the ball at his feet and gets the low strike away, but his effort flashes just wide of the near post!
54’ GOAL! Atletico Madrid 1-0 Alaves: The breakthrough has been broken! Trippier delivers the cross into the box, Suarez gets in front of his marker and glances a header into the far corner of the net via the inside of the post! What a huge goal that could be for Atletico Madrid!
60’ Great save by Pacheco! Atletico Madrid come close to a second goal with the Alaves goalkeeper tipping a strike from Llorente on to the crossbar! Brilliant from Pacheco to keep that out!
85’ PENALTY KICK TO ALAVES! The referee has pointed to the spot after a VAR check. There was an elbow from Savic into the face of Rioja!
86’ OBLAK SAVES! What a moment in Atletico Madrid's season! Joselu struck the penalty kick well, but Oblak went the right way and had a strong enough arm to palm it around the post!
Kieran Trippier now has more assists than any other defender in La Liga this season (6).
Only Lionel Messi (21) has scored more La Liga goals than Luis Suarez has for Atletico Madrid (19) this season.
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