Atletico Madrid sealed back-to-back wins in La Liga for the first time since November as Diego Simeone’s side saw off Celta Vigo 2-0 at Wanda Metropolitano to move up to fourth in the table.
Despite allowing the Galician visitors to have more of the ball, Atletico struck first in the 35th minute. Renan Lodi scored his first goal of the season with a superb finish at the near post from a tight angle, after a long ball from deep by Geoffrey Kondogbia.
The two then combined again in the second half to double Atleti’s lead, as the Brazilian notched a brace with 60 minutes on the clock. Kondogbia’s clipped ball was hit first-time by Lodi, with a good finish into the bottom corner of the net.
The hosts came close to scoring a third late on in the second half, as Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick narrowly went over the bar.
Atletico Madrid held firm to keep the clean sheet and secure a vital win in their hunt for the top four. As for Celta, their five-game unbeaten run in La Liga came to an abrupt end.
Back-to-back La Liga clean sheets for Los Colchoneros. At first viewing, it is scarcely believable that a side that pride themselves on a defence-first approach have had to wait until the end of February to keep two clean sheets in a row in La Liga, but it should be the springboard that Atletico Madrid need to now kick on.
The back-line of Reinildo, Jose Gimenez, Stefan Savic and Sime Vrsaljko all defended valiantly despite the number of shots that Celta had on goal, and Jan Oblak did not have much to do during the game. The Slovenian has not looked his usual self this season between the sticks, but these two results in La Liga will give him confidence.
With a tricky fixture next-up against third-placed Real Betis next Sunday, Diego Simeone will be hoping for more of the same to keep up their hopes of Champions League qualification.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Renan Lodi. The Brazilian, who has not looked convincing so far this season in his natural left-back position, produced an outstanding performance for the second consecutive game for Atletico Madrid in a more advanced role.
The 23-year-old looked a threat all afternoon as he played as more of a left-winger, and it was clear that himself and Geoffrey Kondogbia targeted Celta Vigo right-back Hugo Mallo with balls in behind.
A brace and an assist in his last two games for Atleti mean that Diego Simeone may continue to utilise him further up the pitch.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak 7, Savic 7, Gimenez 6, Reinildo 7, Vrsaljko 7, Llorente 6, Herrera 7, Kondogbia 8, Lodi 8, Felix 7, Correa 6. Subs: L. Suarez 6, Lemar 6, Griezmann 7, Carrasco 6, De Paul 6.
Celta Vigo: Dituro 7, Galan 7, Araujo 5, Aidoo 6, Mallo 6, Beltran 6, Cervi 6, D. Suarez 6, Mendez 6, Mina 6, Aspas 6. Subs: Nolito 6, Galhardo 6, Solari 6.
35’ – GOAL! (Renan Lodi) – Lodi scores a brilliant goal for the home side! Atleti have the lead! A long-ball is clipped towards the full-back by Kondogbia in midfield, who had advanced from his position. Mallo is there to try to hold him off, but Lodi provides a lovely piece of skill to shift the ball to his left foot and sneak it into the goal at Dituro’s near post!
60’ GOAL! (Renan Lodi) – It’s Lodi again! Another assist for Kondogbia! He clips another ball for Lodi on the left, and the Brazilian hits it first-time and it goes into the back of the net!
67′ – ANOTHER SAVE! Dituro makes another key save! This time De Paul hits one from the edge of the box – and it is going into the top corner – but the Celta goalkeeper is there again to tip it away!
84′ – JUST OVER! What an effort by Griezmann! The Frenchman curls a direct free-kick from the edge of the area just over the bar – it was whiskers away from the top corner!