Atletico Madrid secured its third consecutive LaLiga win with an easy 3-0 home victory against Valencia on Saturday, as goals from Antoine Griezmann, Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Lemar extended its unbeaten run in the Spanish league to 10 games.
An inspired Griezmann put Atletico ahead early with a close-range strike and Carrasco extended its advantage slotting home a precise shot right after the break.
Substitute Lemar wrapped up Atletico’s victory in the 67th minute, finishing beautifully from Alvaro Morata’s cross as Diego Simeone’s team produced another brilliant display.
Atletico climbed to 51 points and has tightened its grip on third place in the standings, six points clear of fourth-placed Real Sociedad and five behind Real Madrid in second, both with a game in hand.
Struggling at the bottom of the table, Valencia are 17th on 26 points, level with Getafe and Almeria but clear of the relegation zone on goal-difference.
After a difficult start to the season, Simeone’s team have finally hit their stride and produced a dominant performance against Valencia, who had their first and only shot on target as fulltime approached.
Atletico has played their best football of the campaign in recent weeks, mainly due to the form of Griezmann.
The 31-year-old forward is playing some of his best football in years, having excelled for France at the World Cup in Qatar, and is close to the form that earned him third place in the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
His goal against Valencia was his 151st for Atletico, while this season he leads LaLiga in assists (eight) and is second in goals and assists combined (17).
Atletico, who has conceded only four goals in their last 10 matches, have also rediscovered its old defensive form, a trademark of their side since Simeone arrived over a decade ago.
Securing a top-four finish and a place in Europe’s elite club competition next season will be crucial for Simeone, who will be entering the final year of his contract.
“The team is enjoying the last games. When things go this well, with the equipment plugged in you can enjoy it. The team is getting dynamic and we are moving forward,” midfielder Marcos Llorente told Movistar Plus.
“The goal is to finish as high as possible. We only have LaLiga left, we want to do our best here, try to climb positions, there are great teams above, why not go for them? As long as it is mathematically possible, we are going to go for it all.”