La Liga leaders, Atletico Madrid, proved their title credentials yet again by beating Sevilla 2-0 at home on Tuesday to stride four points clear at the top of the standings.
Atletico Madrid got off to an ideal start when Angel Correa received a pass from returning right-back Kieran Trippier.
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He took Sevilla by surprise with a shot which bounced in off the near post to give them the lead in the 17th minute.
Midfielder Saul Niguez effectively clinched the victory with a thumping effort from the edge of the area in the 76th minute.
The effort helped him to score his first goal of the season and condemn Sevilla to a first defeat in 10 games in all competitions.
The victory took Atletico Madrid on to 41 points after 16 games, four points clear of second-placed Real Madrid who have played 18.
Atletico Madrid had enjoyed a rest over the weekend as their match with Athletic Bilbao had been postponed due to a snowstorm in the Spanish capital.
The freezing conditions had also disrupted their training schedule.
The home side welcomed back Trippier for the first time since Dec. 23 after his 10-week suspension for breaking betting rules in England was put on hold pending an appeal.
The England defender proved his value by playing a big part in both goals.
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone opted to start 126-million-euro (154-million-dollars) forward Joao Felix on the bench for the second game in a row in favour of Correa.
The Argentine repaid his faith with an enterprising shot from the edge of the area, flummoxing Sevilla goalkeeper Bono.
Sevilla had won seven of their previous nine matches and did not make things easy for Diego Simeone’s side.
They fired 13 shots at goal to Atletico Madrid’s five, although they only managed to work Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak twice.
They spurned a golden chance to level when Argentine Marcos Acuna missed the target on the rebound while Oblak was on the floor.
Forward Youssef En-Nesyri also squandered a good opportunity late in the second half.
Sevilla goalkeeper Bono pulled off an impressive save to prevent Luis Suarez doubling Atletico Madrid’s lead.
But even after Saul had scored the second, the visitors continued to look for a goal until the final whistle came.(Reuters/NAN)