In Saturday’s capital derby, Atletico Madrid continued their winning run with a 1-0 victory against Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga. Koke scored the game’s only goal in the second half.
After an international break, Atletico will play Alaves before facing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final on April 5.
Atletico Madrid moved ahead of Barcelona into the third position, only two points behind Sevilla in second, after winning their sixth game in a row. Real Madrid leads Atletico Madrid by 12 points before hosting Barcelona in an eagerly anticipated ‘El Clasico’ on Sunday.
Diego Simeone started the same side that defeated Manchester United 2-1 on aggregate in the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday at Old Trafford.
Simeone looks to have identified his ideal starting XI, with Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix in attack and Luis Suarez as a sub, after repeatedly adjusting the lineup as his club struggled at times this season.
Early on, Griezmann and Felix combined three times to generate opportunities, but Rayo’s defense was holding firm. The hosts retaliated with pressure and a high-tempo onslaught that shook the more gifted visitors for the remainder of the first half.
The resistance crumbled in the 49th minute as Felix connected up with Koke. Koke returned the ball to Felix, who arrived in a second wave, after receiving it in the box. The Portugal striker slipped the ball back to meet Koke’s move past his defender, and the Spaniard finished the job by placing his effort inside the far post.
After committing a foul in the 86th minute, Angel Correa was issued a red card, which looked to be for something the forward shouted to the referee. With 12 goals this season, Correa is Atletico’s leading scorer. He will be unavailable for the match against Alaves.
Rayo, who had gone as high as fourth place in December, is now in 13th position after losing their last ten games.