Atlético Madrid returned to winning ways on Saturday evening with a well-earned 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The hosts almost fell behind in the opening minute of the match, but for a strong save from Jan Oblak.
Atleti took the lead just before the half-hour mark, Angel Correa twisting and turning in the penalty area before laying the ball to Saúl Ñíguez, who stroked home confidently for the hosts.
Diego Simeone's men controlled the tempo of play during the second half, and they were rewarded when Alvaro Morata doubled the lead and put the game beyond the away side, sliding in to finish off a wonderfully worked Atleti move.
Victory lifts the Rojiblancos into second place in the league, although they may be leapfrogged again by Granada on Sunday afternoon.
Key Talking Point
Is there a better goalkeeper in the world than Oblak right now? The Slovenian international is performing at the peak of his powers week-in, week-out, and he's undoubtedly the stand-out player in his position at this moment in time.
The Atleti shot-stopper produced two moments of unbelievable quality in the opening 45 minutes to keep his side level early on, and then to maintain their lead soon after. For the first act of divine intervention, Oblak reacted to a looping header, hung in the air, and with a flick of his wrist the big goalkeeper somehow pushed the ball away from danger when all hope seemed lost. The Atleti giant then tipped over Raul Garcia's fierce drive, a couple of vital fingertips definitively changing the trajectory of the goal-bound effort.
An outright match-winner.
If Oblak was playing for Athletic, decent chance they'd be winning... after Messi he's probably the most decisive player now in LaLiga...— Covering Futbol (@coveringfutbol) October 26, 2019
Starting XI: Oblak (8); Trippier (8), Felipe (8), Hermoso (7), Lodi (7); Koke (7), Saúl (8), Thomas Partey (8), Lemar (7); Correa (8), Morata (8)
Substitutes: Costa (6), Herrera (6), Vitolo (6)
STAR MAN - How this fella doesn't walk into the starting XI every week, I simply don't know (and I won't question a scary man like Simeone either). Nevertheless, Correa brought a whole new dimension to Atleti's forward play and was a constant thorn in the visitors' side throughout the match.
Although Correa may not possess the physical presence of Diego Costa, the Argentine forward is no pushover, and he gave the Athletic Bilbao defence countless headaches with his willingness to hold up possession and run in behind.
The 24-year-old created both goals for the hosts with some excellent fast feet and quick-thinking, providing the spark needed to break the deadlock in a tense match.
Correa definitely showed enough skill and desire to give Simeone a selection headache of his own for the upcoming weeks.
Starting XI: Unai Simon (6); Capa (6), Unai Nuñez (6), Iñigo Martínez (7), Yuri (5); Dani García (6), López (7); Muniain (6), Raúl García (7), Iñigo Córdoba (6); Iñaki Williams (6)
Substitutes: Ibai Gomez (5), Aduriz (6), De Marcos (6)
Atlético Madrid follow up their battling victory over Athletic Bilbao with a trip to Alavés on Tuesday evening, as the Rojiblancos look to stay within touching distance of their close rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Athletic Bilbao put in a spirited display against their combative hosts on Saturday, and Garitano's men will hope to put more points on the board against bottom of the table Espanyol on Wednesday evening.