2018-2019 Spanish Primera División
  • Álvaro Morata (31')
  • Saúl Ñíguez (88')

Alvaro Morata finally scores for Atletico Madrid in win over Villarreal

Alvaro Morata scored his first goal for Atletico Madrid in a 2-0 win at home to Villarreal on Sunday which cut the gap behind La Liga leaders Barcelona back down to seven points.

Morata, who is on loan from Chelsea and had seen two goals ruled out after video assistant referee (VAR) reviews in recent games, broke the deadlock in the 31st minute, sending a cross from Filipe Luis into the bottom corner on the volley.

"At last [the goal] came, with the victory too I am going home very happy today," Morata said. "I was joking a little bit with my teammates. Until I had seen that all the officials in the stadium were giving the goal, I did not celebrate too much. The important thing was the three points, we try to take as many points as possible in our stadium, and we got a very important result today."

This was a less intense performance from Diego Simeone's side than Wednesday's thrilling 2-0 win over Juventus in the Champions League but they still had several chances to add to their lead, with Diego Costa spurning three good opportunities.

Simeone also spoke on about Morata having previously had the "bad luck" to see two "legal" goals not stand.

"We saw him doubt whether to celebrate it or not," the Argentine told BeIN Sports. "The poor guy had the bad luck for two goals he scored legally were disallowed. But he keeps improving, the team needs him and we are happy."

They finally sealed the points with a goal from midfielder Saul Niguez in the 88th minute, aided by two lapses from the visiting side, who are in serious danger of getting relegated.

Goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo misjudged a bounce in his area which allowed Saul to reach the ball first while defender Victor Ruiz was perfectly placed to head the shot away but mistimed his jump, watching on as the ball sailed past him into the net.

"In the end this is what I needed," Morata said, alluding to the tumultuous at Chelsea. "A group of players like this, who believe in me, a coach and a club which trusts me. I had been looking for that a long time, and I have found it here. With all the help I have had there has been no trouble settling in and today is another victory."

Atletico are second in the standings after 25 games on 50 points, while leaders Barcelona have 57. Villarreal are 18th on 23 points, two away from getting out of the relegation zone.

"It is very difficult," Morata said. "Barcelona are a great team. We will battle until the end, while there is still a chance, battling all together as a team until there are no more points to play for. Now we must think about our next game, to remain all together like this, it is difficult for anybody to beat us."

Simeone lauded his squad on an ideal end to a stretch which also featured the win over Juventus and three points in at Rayo Vallecano earlier this week.

"These three games were difficult, this last one with all the emotional charge we carried over from Wednesday," Simeone said. "They started well, but [Atleti goalkeeper] Jan Oblak did what Oblak does. Then we found the way to make chances, Alvaro got another goal that he needed, and we did too.

"The second half was much more closely fought. We had a chance for another couple of goals, but I am going happy after such a tough week."

Information from Reuters was used in this report.

Spanish Primera División Standings

1 Real Madrid 24 +30 53
2 Barcelona 24 +28 52
3 Getafe 24 +14 42
4 Atletico Madrid 24 +8 40
5 Sevilla FC 24 +6 40
6 Villarreal 24 +10 38
7 Valencia 24 +1 38
8 Real Sociedad 23 +8 37
9 Granada 24 -2 33
10 Athletic Bilbao 24 +3 31
11 Osasuna 24 -1 31
12 Real Betis 24 -5 29
13 Levante 24 -6 29
14 Alavés 24 -9 27
15 Real Valladolid 24 -7 26
16 Eibar 23 -10 24
17 Celta Vigo 24 -13 21
18 Mallorca 24 -16 21
19 Leganes 24 -18 19
20 Espanyol 24 -21 19