Atletico Madrid battled their way to victory against Girona on Tuesday night, as Diego Godin's controversial header on 75 minutes set the home side on their way to a hard-fought 2-0 victory.
Atleti were hoping to further cement their place in the top two and keep alive their faint title hopes when these two sides met. Nevertheless, it was the away team who started with intent, as Seydou Doumbia forced two good saves from Jan Oblak inside the first 30 minutes.
This appeared to spark the Madrid side into life however, as they ended the half with their best spell of the game. Despite creating more chances, most notably through Koke's long range strike, which struck the underside of the crossbar, Atleti could not find a way through.
After a quiet start the second half, the home team began to take control of the game on the hour mark. They started to regularly find space out wide, but they couldn't quite work any clear-cut chances from threatening positions. That was until the 75th minute when Godin's header - initially ruled out for offside - was subsequently awarded after a lengthy referral to VAR. He headed the ball into the empty net after the ball popped up following Antoine Griezmann's challenge with Girona keeper Iraizoz.
This resulted in Girona pushing for an equaliser in the final 15 minutes, and indeed they came close with a few half chances.
However, in the 94th minute, Griezmann put the game to bed as he finished coolly after being put through on goal in a lethal Madrid counter-attack.
Here's our breakdown of this one.
Key Talking Point
Once again on Tuesday night, VAR created the game's most controversial moment. Atleti forward Griezmann was ruled offside as he pounced on a deflected shot and ultimately forced the ball towards teammate Godin to head into the empty net.
The Uruguayan appeared to suspect that offside may have played a part as he immediately looked across to the linesman, who had raised his flag, and began running back into position. However, as Iraizoz was ready to take the resulting free-kick, referee Iglesias Villaneuva made him wait as the decision was being reviewed by the VAR officials. After an agonising pause in play, which seemed to last a lifetime, the referee then signalled that the goal had been awarded, sparking wild celebrations in the Wanda Metropolitano.
Up until that point, the Madrid team had really struggled to break down the resolute Girona back line and were not looking like ever breaking the deadlock. Upon review, it must be said that the officials did appear to make the correct decision, as Griezmann remained within a whisker of an onside position.
Starting XI - Oblak (8); Arias (6), Gimenez (5), Godin (7), Luis (6); Koke (7), Rodrigo (6), Partey (5), Saul (7); Morata (6), Griezmann (8)Substitutes - Correa (6), Vitolo (7), Juanfran (N/A)
Star Man - Antoine Griezmann
The Frenchman had large spells in the game in which he was quiet, but the two moments that gave Atleti victory were as a result of his smart play. Firstly, he was the only player sharp enough to react to the deflected shot that eventually fell to Godin to nod in his side's first.
As Girona were pushing for an equalised and looking as though they may take something, Griezmann was alert once again as he perfectly finished off a rapid counter-attack.It is no wonder that the small forward is the subject of speculation in every transfer window, as he once again proves his worth to manager Diego Simeone.
If Atletico Madrid are to have any hope of causing an upset in the title race, they will need to win their next game at the Nou Camp against current leaders Barcelona.
Girona on the other hand face an Espanyol side in a mid-table clash, where both teams will be looking to push onto the top half of the league.