Atletico Madrid stay in La Liga title race with win over Malaga

Atletico Madrid stay in La Liga title race with win over Malaga

Atletico Madrid kept up the pressure on rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid in the race for the Primera Division title with a 1-0 home win over a stubborn Malaga side.

Angel Correa climbed off the bench to score the winning goal just after the hour mark as coach Diego Simeone watched on from the stands, having been sent there by the referee following a bizarre first-half incident.

The victory was a fifth on the trot in La Liga for the Rojiblancos and, as well as keeping them flying high domestically, tees them up nicely for their Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich in midweek.

The top three came into the weekend separated by just one point, with Barca and Atletico level at the summit and Real just behind.

With Real recovering from 2-0 down to beat Rayo Vallecano 3-2 earlier in the day, Atletico needed a response but Simeone's side struggled to impose themselves against an organised Malaga team who arrived at the Vicente Calderon unbeaten in their last four away games.

Malaga, with little left to play for other then pride, quickly showed they were not there just to make up the numbers and Duje Cop forced Jan Oblak into a diving save as the visitors had the first real sight of goal after 13 minutes.

Immediately afterwards at the other end, Antoine Griezmann uncharacteristically squandered a glorious chance to open the scoring.

Koke got free down the left-hand side and his low cross into the penalty area was missed by Fernando Torres at the near post but the ball rolled perfectly into the path of Griezmann who, unmarked 10 yards out, steered his left-foot shot wide.

Koke's long-range free-kick forced a backpedalling Guillermo Ochoa to tip the ball over the crossbar before Charles' header, which was comfortably saved by Oblak, served as a reminder of Malaga's threat on the counter-attack.

It was one such raid which led to Simeone being sent to the stands.

An extra ball was thrown on to the pitch, seemingly from the Atletico bench, during the closing stages of the first half, impeding the momentum of the advancing Ricardo Horta, who was darting dangerously down the left wing with the hosts outnumbered.

Simeone was sent to the stands after a discussion with referee Antonio Mateu.

The second half began with Torres having a penalty appeal turned down after going to ground softly under a challenge from his namesake Miguel.

Ochoa had been largely untroubled in the Malaga goal as the visitors' hard work frustrated Atletico and the Mexico international was unfortunate to be beaten by Correa's 62nd-minute strike from just outside the area, which took a deflection off a defender as the ball nestled in the bottom corner of the net.

Correa was lively after his 57th-minute introduction and the youngster saw another effort narrowly miss wide as the hosts pushed for a second goal.

Atletico survived a late scare when Oblak prevented an equaliser as he got down well to repel Jose Recio's well-struck effort.

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