Atletico Madrid 3-1 Elche: Suarez double gets leaders back on track
Luis Suarez
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In their first LaLiga match since losing the Madrid derby, Atletico Madrid comfortably saw off Elche courtesy of a Luis Suarez double.

Luis Suarez scored twice as LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid secured a comfortable 3-1 home victory over Elche.

Atletico had lost the Madrid derby in their last league fixture, ending a 26-match unbeaten run in the competition.

But there was little danger of them suffering a second straight top-flight loss from the moment Suarez put them in front four minutes before half-time on Saturday.

Suarez added a second after the break as he emphatically ended a three-match run without a goal.

Lucas Boye headed in to give Elche hope, but Atletico sealed all three points when substitute Diego Costa converted a penalty with 10 minutes remaining.

Atletico thought they had won an early penalty when Joao Felix's through ball led to Suarez being tugged back by John Donald, only for a VAR check to reveal the striker had strayed offside.

Elche goalkeeper Edgar Badia used his legs to keep out a swerving drive from Marcos Llorente, who also blazed over from another opportunity later in the first half.

Badia then denied Thomas Lemar but there was nothing he could do when Suarez got a faint touch on Kieran Trippier's accurate cross to divert it into the far corner from six yards.

And it was Suarez who appeared to have put the result beyond doubt after 58 minutes, as he slid in to convert Yannick Carrasco's angled left-wing cross from close range at the far post.

Elche got back into it six minutes later when Boye headed into the roof of the net after Tete Morente did well to flick a corner into his path.

Joao Felix limped off for Atletico in the closing stages with what head coach Diego Simeone will hope is not a serious problem.

But aside from Jan Oblak denying Boye, the Joao Felix substitution was the only concern of note, one that meant Costa came off the bench to return from injury after a month out.  

The striker made a quick impression, winning a penalty when he drew a foul from Ivan Marcone before taking the spot-kick himself and sending Badia the wrong way.

 

What does it mean? Pressure on Real Madrid and Barca

Real Madrid have won three straight league games and Barcelona have celebrated two morale-boosting victories in a row.

But this deserved triumph for Atletico, who hold a healthy advantage over their main rivals, means the pressure is back on the big two ahead of their games this weekend, starting with Barca's crunch clash against Valencia.

Suarez back on track

Suarez had not scored in three games, something Simeone took responsibility for ahead of the match due to putting him straight back in the team after his coronavirus-enforced absence.

The former Barca striker looked in fine fettle here, though, scoring twice to register his 23rd LaLiga double on his 200th appearance. He had two key passes too, a joint game-high.

Joao Felix not at his best

While seeing Costa return was a boost, it was not a vintage performance from Joao Felix, who has been excellent this season.

He created one chance and did not threaten with his two attempts on goal but the main concern for Atleti fans will be the extent of the knock that saw him replaced late on.

Key Opta facts:

- Since his LaLiga debut in October 2014, only Barcelona's Lionel Messi (36) has scored more braces in the competition than Suarez (23).

- Suarez has scored six goals at home in LaLiga this season and none of them from the penalty spot, more than any other player in the top five European leagues.

- Excluding own-goals, Angel Correa (3) and Kieran Trippier (4) have assisted seven of Atletico's last 12 goals in LaLiga.

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- Atletico have won all nine LaLiga games this season when they have scored the first goal and have scored the opener in six home game, more than any other team (W6).

What's next?

It is a big one up next for Atletico as they travel to face fellow contenders Real Sociedad on Tuesday. Elche will look to bounce back when they host struggling Osasuna on the same day.