La Liga: Griezmann shines, Atletico beat Valencia 3-0, Rayo Vallecano draw 2-2 with Girona

Antoine Griezmann pulled the strings for Atletico Madrid in a 3-0 thrashing of Ruben Baraja’s hapless Valencia in La Liga on Saturday.

The French forward opened the scoring for the hosts at the Metropolitano and Diego Simeone continued his fine form with another fine display.

Yannick Carrasco doubled Atlético’s lead early in the second half and Thomas Lemar sealed the win, with the Rosiblancos, third, six points ahead of fourth-placed Real Sociedad, with a game more to play.

The loss leaves Los Che in 17th place, level on 26 points with 18th-placed Getafe, who host Sevilla on Sunday.

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Atlético recorded their fifth win in six La Liga games and strengthened their grip on third place with a confident display, something they could not do in the first half of the campaign.

“Before the World Cup nothing was going for us, and now everything is,” Atletico midfielder Marcos Llorente told DAZN.

“The team is happy, and looking forward to winning the game, and we aim to perform as high as we can.

“We know we only have La Liga left so we will try to move up the ranks. There are big teams on us, why not try to catch them?”

Memphis Depay missed two good chances for Atlético early on, but Griezmann broke the deadlock after 23 minutes.

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Llorente burst forward and fed the striker, and while his first touch was about a stroke of luck, he appeared to bounce off his foot and set the ball up well, the second for his ninth league goal of the season. Had a clean finish.

Valencia thought they had replied through Hugo Duro, but his strike was disallowed by VAR for a foul by Dimitri Foulquier at the other end of the pitch.

– Atlético Stroll –

The first half was intense and fairly even, but Atlético won after Carrasco headed home from close range shortly after the break.

Griezmann laid out a fine pass for Álvaro Morata, who left Valencia defender Erle Comart in the dust and crossed for Lemar to head home.

“The team is doing very well, when the group is good and the competition the way the team is competing is difficult (to face),” Simeone told DAZN.

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“We could have been better in our finishing, we were creating chances but didn’t have the decisive ability to finish off games. The goals came in the second half.

“We are pleased with how the team is growing.”

Samuel Lino hit the post late on for Valencia but he could not even manage a consolation strike on another worrying day for Baraja.

“We’re really down, we didn’t have a good game,” Valencia captain Jose Gaya told DAZN.

“The disallowed goal affected us. (The referee) didn’t think it was a foul and with VAR, he changed the decision.”

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The loss was Barja’s third in five matches for the side he played for in February.

“We are very disappointed. This is the game where we are the least recognizable (as Valencia) since I came here,” said Baraja.

– Penalty Pitfall –

Rayo Vallecano was held to a 2-2 draw by Girona after missing a penalty which Oscar Trejo attempted to pass to the same Palajon.

Trejo saw the first spot-kick saved by Paulo Gazzaniga, but it was allowed to be re-taken by Girona for encroachment.

On his second attempt, he passed the ball to offensive tackle Palajon, who shot.

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Barcelona successfully executed the move in La Liga in 2016, with Lionel Messi converting a penalty for Luis Suárez, who scored against Celta Vigo.

Trejo and Palazon’s miss brought back memories of Arsenal attempting the same move against Manchester City in the Premier League in 2005 when Robert Pires attempted a pass to Thierry Henry but failed the move.

The draw leaves Rayo provisionally in eighth place while Girona are in 12th.

Celta Vigo won 3–1 at Espanyol, with a fine goal from talented midfielder Gabry Viega to continue his good form.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)