Atletico Madrid 1 Espanyol 0: Griezmann's 200th career goal moves host back up to second

Atletico Madrid moved back above Sevilla in LaLiga at least until Sunday, as Antoine Griezmann's penalty defeated Espanyol.

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann   -  Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann's penalty was enough as Atletico Madrid moved up to second in LaLiga after claiming an unremarkable 1-0 win over Espanyol, as the Frenchman reached 200 career goals for club and country.

Espanyol produced a fine performance given its wretched form, but Atletico just about managed to earn the victory which moves it back above Sevilla at least until Sunday thanks to Griezmann.

The visitor looked considerably more threatening in the first half, with Jan Oblak having to be at his best to deny Borja Iglesias and one-time Atletico striker Leo Baptistao.

But Espanyol's attacking threat fizzled out somewhat after the break and Atletico made the most of that, with Griezmann's penalty proving decisive and inflicting a sixth successive league defeat on Espanyol, its worst run since 2003.

Promising start

Espanyol looked the more creative of the two sides early on and went close twice in the first 15 minutes, as Esteban Granero sent a chip just wide of the top-left corner, before Oblak had to be alert to tip a similar effort from Iglesias over.

Oblak made another vital stop in the 28th minute when parrying Baptistao's fierce 20-yard volley, though he had to rely on his left-hand post to stop the Brazilian's follow-up effort.

Atletico finally tested Diego Lopez just before the break – the former Real Madrid goalkeeper pushing a Griezmann volley wide.

The host looked more solid defensively after the interval and then found itself ahead in the 56th minute, as Griezmann emphatically slammed a penalty into the roof of the net as a consequence of Koke being felled by a wild Granero kick.

Atletico should have rounded things off when Gelson Martins was tackled in the penalty area on the counter, though it had no impact on the score as the host held on at the other end.

What does it mean? Atletico rides its luck

Atletico was again guilty of producing an unimpressive performance, finding itself under pressure a lot in the first half. Although it weathered the storm and came out unscathed, one has to assume its luck will run out eventually against better – more ruthless – opposition.

What's next?

After the winter break, Atletico faces a trip to fellow high-flyer Sevilla in what promises to be a feisty encounter at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, while Espanyol hosts Leganes.