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Primera División

  • February 21, 2015
  • • 2:00 PM
  • • Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
  • Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
  • • Attendance: 44500

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Almeria: Champion enters crucial period with comfortable win

Atleti began a run of potentially crucial fixtures with a comfortable 3-0 La Liga home victory on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid started what could be a season-defining run of fixtures with a convincing 3-0 La Liga win against Almeria at Vicente Calderon on Saturday.

Mario Mandzukic scored an early penalty before teeing up two first-half goals for strike partner Antoine Griezmann, as Diego Simeone's side cruised past the struggling visitors.

The home side played the last few minutes with 10 men after Guilherme Siqueira was sent off for a second booking, but it was still a welcome win for the champion, which currently sits third behind rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona having lost to Celta Vigo last time out.

Atleti faces Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, before back-to-back meetings with fellow top-four contenders Sevilla and Valencia.

The home side's intentions were clear from the outset, but the breakthrough came with the help of a contentious spot kick.

Mandzukic and Griezmann demonstrated their developing partnership for the next two goals to put the result beyond doubt before halftime, allowing Simeone to rotate his squad after the break.

Almeria, meanwhile, saw its three-match unbeaten run end, meaning results on Sunday could drag it closer to the drop zone.

Simeone's side started the match with plenty of purpose and intensity and got its reward in the 13th minute, albeit in controversial circumstances.

Diego Godin was adjudged to have been fouled in the penalty area while attempting to meet Gabi's floated free kick. Mauro Dos Santos was identified as the chief offender, although he and his teammates, two of whom also jumped with the Uruguayan, looked bemused at the penalty award.

Mandzukic ignored all of the arguments to coolly convert the spot kick and give Atleti the lead. Things got worse for the visitors in the 20th minute, and this time there were few doubts about the main culprit.

Fran Velez inexplicably played the ball to the feet of Mandzukic 40 yards from goal and the former Bayern Munich frontman was able to send his strike partner Griezmann through to double the lead with a composed finish.

The game was all but over as a contest nine minutes later when Griezmann and Mandzukic combined once again to add a third goal.

The Frenchman managed to get the wrong side of his defender inside the six-yard box to latch on to Mandzukic's knockdown and fire past Julian on the turn, as Almeria failed to deal with another aerial ball.

With one eye clearly on its return to European action, Simeone was able to withdraw Mandzukic and Griezmann to standing ovations in the second period, to be replaced by Fernando Torres and Raul Garcia.

The only blot on otherwise fantastic evening for Atleti was the late sending off for Siqueira. The defender was shown a second yellow card for deliberate handball on the halfway line, but it mattered little to the overall context of the match.