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La Liga

Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Atletico Madrid

After taking a deserved lead early in the second half, Atletico Madrid held on for a fifth consecutive La Liga victory against Rayo Vallecano.

And though it was far from pretty, the three points could go a long way to securing their top-four place come May.

The visitors took advantage of their hosts’ limitations in attack, and that single strike – Koke’s first of the season – was always likely to prove enough.

While Rayo is still not safe, their mission to avoid relegation should be achieved if they can replicate such endeavour between now and the season’s end.

Starting Lineup:

RAYO VALLECANO (4-3-2-1): Stole Dimitrievski;

Ivan Balliu, Alejandro Catena, Mario Suarez, Francisco Garcia;

Oscar Valentin, Santiago Comesana; Bebe, Oscar Trejo, Alvaro Garcia;

Sergi Guardiola.

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ATLETICO MADRID (3-5-2): Jan Oblak;

Stefan Savic, Jose Gimenez, Reinildo;

Marcos Llorente, Koke, Rodrigo de Paul, Hector Herrera, Renan Lodi;

Antoine Griezmann, Joao Felix.

Goal:

ATLETI LEAD! After a bright start to the half, Koke exchanges passes with Joao Felix on the edge of the area, receiving the ball on the left side of the box and then steering in an excellent finish towards the far post-Dimitrievski left helpless. Rayo 0-1 Atletico.

Joao Felix is firing on all cylinders.

Joao Felix produced a lively performance and was vital in the opening goal, setting up Koke’s finish with a perfectly weighted return pass.

His last seven LaLiga appearances have seen him score seven goals.

He recorded four goals and three assists, as many goal contributions as he had managed in his previous 31.

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Koke joins a select group.

Koke’s cultured finish represented the midfielder’s first league goal of the season.

And the goal came from his first attempt and first touch in the Vallecano penalty area.

He also became one of just five players to score in the last 12 LaLiga campaigns, joining Karim Benzema, ex-Atleti man Raul Garcia, Iker Muniain, and team-mate Griezmann.

So, what’s next?

Following the international break, Atleti – up into third after today’s win, temporarily – will host Alaves at the Metropolitano.

Meanwhile, Rayo will encounter fellow strugglers Granada next time out.

Likewise, for more football news like this, click here.

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