Alvaro Morata has been praised by Diego Simeone after scoring his first Atletico Madrid goal at the weekend.
Simeone’s side were deemed slight favourites heading into this Sunday afternoon kick off but given Villarreal’s latest return to form – that victory was not going to be as easy as predicted.
And, it was the visitors who had the opening chance of the first half as Carlos Bacca linked with strike partner Karl Toko-Ekambi but his effort was saved excellently by Jan Oblak.
Atleti would then create chances of their own as Morata tested the former of Sergio Asenjo but he found the visiting keeper in good form in the early goings.
Asenjo was beaten though when the former Chelsea man was found Filipe Luis before hitting a sumptous volley into the back of the net.
The second half was a similar end to end affair as Diego Costa who replaced Morata had two chances in two minutes to extend the home side’s lead.
Villarreal did have chances to level the tie too but Gerard Moreno found Oblak in good form once more and the former Espanyol striker rued his miss just moments later in the 88th minute when Saul Niguez struck to seal all three points for the hosts.
Following the game, Simeone has praised Morata for his performance: “Morata has made an instant impact here, two legal goals were scored which were disallowed but should not have been – those were poorly interpreted.
“When you have strikers such as Costa and Morata then your opponents should be in constant fear of what damage they can do.
“Morata has had bad lucky but he has kept working and we are very for him, he has kept plugging away and shows a good attitude.
“I am very proud of my players in general and the season we are having.”
The win for Atleti means they cut Barcelona’s lead at the top of the table to seven points.