Diego Costa struck to aid Atletico Madrid in a 2-1 win over Deportivo Alaves at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday in La Liga to maintain their superb run of form since the season resumed, to tighten their hold on third place in a bid towards sealing Champions League qualification.

After a slow start to Saturday’s game, Midfielder Saul Niguez broke the deadlock by heading home a pin-point free kick from Kieran Trippier just before the hour mark, while Diego Costa converted a penalty won by Marcos Llorente to double their lead in the 73rd.

Two Atletico substitutes played a huge part in the second half to the build of of the second goal. Joselu scored a stoppage-time goal for the visitors after a penalty was awarded for a handball by Atletico captain Koke, who will miss next week’s trip to Barcelona through suspension.

Atletico Madrid are now four points clear of Sevilla in fourth and have opened up a superb nine-point cushion over Getafe in fifth.

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“It was a really hard-fought game, Alaves sat very deep and it was very hard for us to get near their goal or down the wing but we got the breakthrough from a set play then they opened up and our subs caused them damage,” said goalscorer Saul.

“I can sleep easily because the team is in very good form, we all worked hard in our homes during lockdown and after it and that has made the difference between us and our rivals.”

The Alaves game was also a landmark win for coach Diego Simeone, who became the club’s most successful manager with 195 La Liga victories, going ahead of the late Luis Aragones who previously held the record with 194 wins in the top-flight.

Atletico Madrid needed points in the game played saturday evening as their next one is a huge test away to Barcelona on Tuesday. Deportivo Alaves, meanwhile, are at home to Granada a day later as they bid to avoid a run of three straight defeats.

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