Atletico Madrid moved top of the table as they extended their unbeaten run to 23 LaLiga games by thrashing Cadiz 4-0 at Wanda Metropolitano.
Diego Simeone's team – the only unbeaten side remaining in Spain's top flight – made light work of opponents who had won their last four away matches without conceding, and Joao Felix was the star.
With help from the woeful Cadiz goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma, Atleti raced into a two-goal lead by the 22nd minute, as Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente struck.
Having teed up Luis Suarez for a third after the break, Joao Felix then doubled his tally with a thumping 90th-minute strike to cap off a resounding success ahead of Atleti's clash with Barcelona in 14 days' time.
Atleti had the lead inside eight minutes – Jeremias fumbling Koke’s free-kick to Llorente, whose cross was headed home by Joao Felix.
Jeremias' shocking start continued when he flapped at another cross, with Juan Cala subsequently going close to scoring an own goal, and Atleti did not have to wait long for their second.
Llorente elected to shoot from a tight angle and Jeremias failed to react, allowing the ball through at his near post.
4 - @atletienglish 's Marcos Llorente has both scored and assisted in the same game for the 4th time in all competitions since the start of 2020; only Lionel Messi (5) has done so on more occassions among LaLiga players in that time. Stellar. pic.twitter.com/yAIcDOnFir— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 7, 2020
Jeremias palmed a cross straight to Saul Niguez just after the half-hour mark, but the midfielder's tap-in was disallowed for offside, while Suarez twice went close.
Suarez had his goal six minutes into the second half, however – drilling in across Jeremias after latching onto Joao Felix's throughball, with the goal given after a VAR check overturned an initial offside decision.
Jan Oblak had his first save to make just before the hour, getting down to Jairo Izquierdo's deflected strike.
Another Cadiz substitute, Jon Ander Garrido, forced Oblak into a fine stop, though Cadiz's impressive away run had crumbled.
And there was still time for Joao Felix's emphatic second, which was set up wonderfully by Angel Correa.
What does it mean? Atleti's run rolls on
Atleti's streak without suffering a defeat dates back to a derby defeat to Real Madrid in February. It is their best-ever unbeaten stint in LaLiga and the longest current run of any team in Europe's top-five leagues.
This win put them ahead of Real Sociedad, who have played a game more and whose fixture on Sunday may well be called off due to their opponents Granada having been hit by a glut of positive coronavirus tests.
City rivals Madrid and Villarreal, who also play on Sunday, would move above Atleti with wins.
Joao Felix on fire
It was an impressive display from Joao Felix, who scored twice and collected an assist for Suarez's goal as well as creating a game-high forur chances.
The Portugal international has scored doubles in three of his last four appearances, with his second season with Atletico proving much more impressive than his first.
Llorente is also thriving. Initially brought in as a holding player, he is now a robust, all-action attacking option and, since the start of 2020, only Lionel Messi (five) has scored and provided an assist in the same game on more occasions than the four he has managed.
Jeremias' horror show sets the tone
Cadiz's goalkeeper had conceded just once in his previous five LaLiga appearances prior to Saturday's clash, but Jeremias showed none of that form during an abysmal first-half display.
Having cost his side for Joao Felix's opener, he was a constant liability from crosses, and should have done far better with his attempt to keep out Llorente's strike. In total, he made just three saves from seven shots on target.
Key Opta Facts:
- Joao Felix has scored six goals in his last four appearances in all competitions, as many as he registered in his previous 26 matches.
- This was Joao Felix's first headed goal for Atletico in 46 outings for the club.
- Llorente has both scored and assisted in the same game for Atletico for the fourth time in all competitions, though this was the first time he had done so as a starter.
- No Atletico player has made more assists in 2020 in all competitions than Correa (seven), while Suarez has scored with five of his eight league shots on target this season.
- Atletico are unbeaten in their last 11 meetings against Cadiz in LaLiga (W7 D4), since their 2-0 defeat at Ramon de Carranza in March 1989.
In-form Atleti welcome Ronald Koeman's Barca to Wanda Metropolitano for a huge clash on November 21 after the international break, with Cadiz in action at home against Real Sociedad a day later.