A second half goal from substitute Saul Niguez was enough to earn Atletico Madrid a scrappy 1-0 victory against Leganes at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday afternoon.
In a first half which was bereft of clear chances, Antoine Griezmann came closest to an opener, as the Frenchman fired over the Leganes crossbar from just inside the area.
Diego Simeone shuffled the pack at half time, bringing off Andres Solano and – surprisingly – Griezmann for Saul Niguez and Thomas Lemar; Changes which took only four minutes to have effect on the game.
Saul broke the deadlock for the Rojiblancos after Angel Correa was tripped by Leganes defender Kenneth Omeruo. Saul's penalty was saved by Andriy Lunin, but the Spaniard made no mistake from the rebound.
Atleti came close to doubling their lead minutes after their opener, as a looping Thomas Partey strike from range walloped against the crossbar.
Key Talking Point
It was an untidy display in the first half from Simeone's team, as they made many basic errors in possession and looked unable to mount a dangerous attack on the Leganes goal.
The Argentine's decision to change to a more attacking style at half time paid immediate dividends, as they took the lead straight after the break.
The decision to substitute star man Antoine Griezmann at half time will have raised a few eyebrows at the Wanda Metropolitano, although Simeone likely made the decision with one eye on the Juventus game during midweek.
Starting XI - Oblak (6), Gimenez (6), Savic (5), Solano (6), Arias (5), Rodri (6), Thomas (7), Vitolo (6), Correa (6), Griezmann (6), Kalinic (5)
Substitutes - Lemar (6), Saul (7*), Juanfran (6)
Match-winner Saul Niguez played a key part in earning Diego Simeone's side a hugely important three points.
The 24-year-old Spaniard tapped home the rebound after Andriy Lunin saved his tame penalty to win the game for the Rojiblancos despite a poor performance, which Simeone will hope will
not be replicated during midweek.
As well as his goal, Saul gave his team some much needed creativity and energy, which livened up his side following a passive performance during the first half.
Starting XI - Lunin (6), Omeruo (5), Tarin (6), Reyes (6), Vesga (6), Eraso (6), Perez (6), Kravetz (5), Nyom (6), Braithwaite (6), El-Nesyri (5)
Substitutes - El Zhar (5), Carrillo (5), Arnais (5)
Diego Simeone's side face Juventus on Tuesday night in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 clash. Atleti will arrive in Turin with a 2-0 lead after a terrific victory at the Wanda Metropolitano in the first leg.
Leganes face fourteenth placed Girona in their next match in La Liga at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.