Atletico Madrid 3 Valencia 0: Simeone's men regain control of Champions League qualification fate

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The race for Champions League qualification in LaLiga appears tighter than ever after Atletico Madrid moved above Real Sociedad and into fourth place thanks to a 3-0 home win over Valencia on Sunday.

Antoine Griezmann gave the hosts the lead in the 10th minute at Vicente Calderon, finishing well from just inside the box after good approach play from Koke to score his 55th goal in 100 league games for Atleti.

Sloppy play had allowed Valencia to gain a foothold in the game but Diego Simeone's men doubled their lead three minutes after the interval when Kevin Gameiro's shot deflected in off the unlucky Eliaquim Mangala.

The result was never in doubt thereafter, with Griezmann seizing on indecision from the Valencia backline in the 83rd minute to claim his second and Atleti's third, steering home what was the 350th goal Atleti have scored under Simeone in LaLiga.

Fan favourite Fernando Torres was well enough to watch his side from the directors' box after suffering a sickening head injury in Thursday's 1-1 draw with Deportivo La Coruna.

Simeone meanwhile was taking charge of his 200th LaLiga game for Atletico, with his side recording a first win in three Liga games to boost their Champions League qualification hopes and narrow the gap on third-placed Sevilla to six points.

Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves had to make a fine save in the third minute, diving to his left to palm away a powerful drive from Filipe Luis, but the opening goal soon arrived for the hosts.
 
Koke was given too much time and space to drive at the Valencia defence and when he slipped a neat pass through to Griezmann, the French striker slotted across Alves and into the bottom-left corner to record his 10th goal of 2017.

Griezmann, who celebrated his goal by lifting his shirt to show a message to mark his girlfriend's birthday, then fired wide as Atletico continued their strong start.
 
Simone Zaza had Valencia's first chance after 26 minutes as a deep Dani Parejo free-kick came to him at the back post, but the Italian misjudged his header and the ball flew harmlessly wide.

Atleti almost doubled their lead in the first minute of the second half as Yannick Carrasco's shot flicked narrowly wide via a deflection off Mangala, with Alves beaten.

Mangala was less fortunate moments later, however, as he diverted Gameiro's strike over the helpless Alves to put Atletico completely in control.

Griezmann should have made the points absolutely safe after 53 minutes when he raced on to Koke's pass, but Alves made a brilliant save to keep Valencia alive.

Munir El Haddadi tested Jan Oblak with a speculative long-range effort and Mangala then made up for his misfortunate by denying Gameiro with a superb challenge in the box.

Atletico added a third with seven minutes remaining, Griezmann collecting Thomas Partey's poked throughball to beat Alves from close range.

Having only taken one point from their two previous Liga games, Simeone will have been relieved to see his team close out the victory professionally to move into the table's final Champions League spot.