La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid once again proved their qualifications by beating form-able Sevilla 2-0 at home on Tuesday to score a four-point lead at the top.
Atletico got off to a perfect start when Angel Correa received a pass from returning right-back Kieran Trippier and took Sevilla by surprise with a shot that bounced off the near post to give them the lead in the 17th minute.
Midfielder Saul Niguez effectively clinched the victory with a resounding effort from the edge of the box in the 76th to score his first goal of the season and doom Sevilla to a first defeat in 10 games in all competitions.
The victory took Atletico to 41 points after 16 games, four ahead of second-placed Real Madrid who played 18.
Atletico had rested this weekend as their match with Athletic Bilbao was postponed due to a snowstorm in the Spanish capital, although the icy conditions also disrupted their training schedule.
The home side welcomed Trippier for the first time since December 23 after his 10 week suspension for breaking betting rules in England was suspended pending an appeal and the England defender proved his worth by playing a big role in both purposes.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone opted to get € 126million ($ 154million) forward Joao Felix started off the bench for the second game in a row in favor of Correa and the Argentine has repaid his faith with an enterprising shot from the edge of the box, Sevillian goalkeeper Bono.
Sevilla had won seven of their previous nine matches and hadn’t made it easier for Diego Simeone’s side, shooting 13 shots on goal against Atletico’s five, although he only managed to work twice the Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
They missed a golden chance to level when Argentinian Marcos Acuna missed the rebound goal while Oblak was on the ground, while forward Youssef En-Nesyri also squandered a good opportunity late in the second half.
Sevilla goalkeeper Bono made an impressive save to prevent Luis Suarez from doubling Atletico’s lead and even after Saul scored the second, the visitors continued to seek a goal until the final whistle.
Somewhere else, Grenade rebounded from back-to-back defeats to see relegation threatened Osasuna in Andalusia.
The hosts boosted their hopes in European football, moving three points behind fifth Real Sociedad, who played one more game, as a clinical finishing display saw them score their only two shots on target in 90 minutes.
Former Watford striker Luis Suarez put Granada ahead with a smart first time after Osasuna failed to clear a corner, before goalkeeper Sergio Herrera passed his own net before mid -time.