MADRID – Luis Suarez made sure that Atletico Madrid will end 2020 top of La Liga after scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Getafe on Wednesday (Dec 30).
Suarez struck in the 20th minute with a superb header from Yannick Carrasco’s cross to take Diego Simeone’s side three points ahead of Real Madrid, who are in action at lowly Elche later on Wednesday.
Real Sociedad, Sevilla and Villarreal are all a further six points back, with Barcelona 10 points behind Atletico in sixth after their 1-1 draw with Eibar on Tuesday.
Even if Madrid win in the late kick-off they will stay behind Atletico thanks to their significantly inferior goal difference, which currently separates teams locked on the same points.
Atletico will have also played two fewer matches than their local rivals come the end of the day’s fixtures after a win emblematic of Simeone’s reign on his 500th match as coach of the club.
Thomas Lemar almost opened the scoring in the 15th minute when he crashed a shot off the near post from a tight angle.
Suarez gave the hosts the lead with a beautifully placed header that was all the more impressive for the way Carrasco’s cross was flashed into a crowded area from midfield.
The Uruguayan’s eighth goal of the season was a good as it got for Atletico, who despite a fielding a full-strength line-up did not impress in a match of little incident at the Wanda Metropolitano.
They failed to take the game by the scruff of the neck against a Getafe team that have scored just 12 times in 15 matches and are 14th, two points above the relegation zone.
However Atletico’s third win in a row ensures they remain top of the pile after a fraught last few days in which Diego Costa was allowed to leave and Kieran Trippier was banned until the end of February for betting breaches.
Granada in Euro hunt
Earlier, Granada moved to within two points of the Champions League places after beating Valencia 2-1 in a fiesty match where three players were sent off in six second-half minutes.
Jorge Molina’s powerful header two minutes from time keeps Granada in seventh place on 24 points, two behind fourth-placed Sevilla.
Granada, who levelled through Kenedy on the stroke of half-time after Kevin Gameiro had opened for Valencia in the 36th minute, are also one point away from Barcelona.
Valencia’s seventh league defeat of the season leaves them level on 15 points with Real Valladolid, who are third-from-bottom in the relegation zone and earned a point at Cadiz on Tuesday.
Javi Gracia’s side haven’t won a La Liga match in their last seven attempts and had their task made harder when Jason and Goncalo Guedes were sent off within three minutes of each other midway through the second half.
Granada’s Domingos Duarte was then shown a straight red card three minutes later after he cynically hacked down Manu Vallejo as he attempted to burst through on goal with the scores still level.
Molina punished the beleaguered away side by thumping home Alberto Soro’s cross.