Federico Chiesa was sent off on his Juventus debut as the Cristiano Ronaldo-less Serie A champions drew 1-1 with Crotone on Saturday. 

Bereft of the talismanic Ronaldo, who is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 while on international duty with Portugal, Juve looked far from their best at Stadio Ezio Scida. 

Alvaro Morata's first goal since rejoining the club on loan from Atletico Madrid cancelled out Simy's early penalty for the hosts, but their hopes of going on to claim all three points were dealt a blow with 30 minutes remaining when Chiesa, who joined on loan from Fiorentina on transfer deadline day, received a straight red card. 

Juve - whose veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made his 650th Serie A appearance - thought they had won it late on thanks to a close-range finish from Morata but he was deemed to be offside after a lengthy VAR review. 

Crotone started with a spring in their step and were rewarded after 11 minutes when Simy stroked home from the penalty spot after Leonardo Bonucci had been adjudged to have fouled Arkadiusz Reca inside the area. 

Juve bounced back nine minutes later when Morata slid home from four yards after being picked out by Chiesa.

Manolo Portanova - making his first appearance since May 2019 - was denied by Alex Cordaz at his near post shortly before the interval, while at the other end Buffon denied Pedro Pereira. 

Rodrigo Bentancur flashed an effort wide immediately after the restart before Luca Cigarini whipped wide of Buffon's left-hand post from a promising position on the edge of the area. 

Chiesa then saw red for a late challenge on Cigarini, although Andrea Pirlo's men almost stole ahead soon after when Morata flicked a header onto the post. 

The Spain striker was denied a second inside the closing 15 minutes, with a VAR review showing that he was marginally offside when he turned home Juan Cuadrado's low ball into the area. 

A point moves Juve up to fourth, four points behind leaders Milan, while Crotone are off the bottom after picking up their first point of the season.

Alvaro Morata was not the third-choice signing as he was always a priority for Juventus, insists head coach Andrea Pirlo. 

Spain striker Morata sealed his return to Turin on an initial season-long deal from Atletico Madrid, with Juve retaining an option to make the deal permanent for €45million or pay an additional €10m to loan him for a further campaign. 

Juve had been tipped to sign Luis Suarez from Barcelona before the deal broke down and he joined Atleti, while Edin Dzeko was also linked with a move from Roma. 

But Morata arrived instead to fill a void left by Gonzalo Higuain's departure to Inter Miami, with the 27-year-old having left to re-join Real Madrid in 2016 and subsequently spending time at Chelsea and Atleti. 

Pirlo, who started his coaching career with a convincing 3-0 win over Sampdoria last week, said the fact he previously played alongside Morata was a big draw. 

"We were waiting for a striker and he arrived," he told a news conference ahead of the Serie A clash against Roma on Sunday. 

"Alvaro Morata knows us well and I was fortunate enough to have played with him.  

"He was not a third choice but one of our priorities, from a technical and tactical aspect he's what we were looking for."

Dzeko is set to come up against Juve at Stadio Olimpico and Pirlo acknowledged the threat he poses.

"He could have been a Juve striker, but he remains a great player," Pirlo added. "We respect him, but unfortunately he will be an opponent tomorrow."

Pirlo has a couple of selection posers to ponder against Roma with midfielder Arthur – a close-season arrival from Barca – in contention having been an unused substitute against Sampdoria, while forward Paulo Dybala returned to training this week after a muscular issue.  

"We've worked with Paulo Dybala, who has gradually returned with the group," Pirlo said. "Let's see how he feels today and whether he can travel to Rome. 

"Also, Arthur is coming from a period of inactivity but has worked very well. He's settling in, from a tactical and physical point of view. 

"He hasn't played much at Barcelona either. He needs a period of acclimatisation, he's available tomorrow and we'll see whether to let him play or not." 

Juventus welcomed Alvaro Morata back to Turin ahead of the forward's expected return to the Serie A champions.

Morata is reportedly set to join Juve on loan from Atletico Madrid in a deal that will cost €9million and the Italian club will also apparently have an option to buy the 27-year-old for €45m.

Juventus, who have been searching for a forward, welcomed Morata back as he landed in Turin.

"@AlvaroMorata is back in town!" the club wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of the forward.

Morata is set for his second spell at Juve, where he scored 27 goals in 93 games across two seasons between 2014 and 2016.

He then returned to Real Madrid for a season before joining Chelsea and later Atletico, where he netted 12 LaLiga goals in 34 games last season.

With Gonzalo Higuain having left to join Inter Miami, Juve had been linked with the likes of Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Roma's Edin Dzeko.

Morata's move could pave the way for Suarez, 33, to join Atletico.

Juve have won nine consecutive Serie A titles and opened their campaign under Andrea Pirlo with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday.

Eduardo Camavinga is highly coveted following his exploits for Ligue 1 outfit Rennes.

The 17-year-old's stock has also risen after making his first France appearance.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly vying for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – GIANTS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD FOR CAMAVINGA

Real Madrid face competition from Paris Saint-Germain to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to Marca.

Camavinga, who made his international debut for France on Tuesday, has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga champions Madrid.

However, Ligue 1 holders PSG are reportedly determined to keep the 17-year-old in France.

The front page of Friday's AS Diario adds Camavinga, PSG star Kylian Mbappe and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano are being targeted by Madrid in 2021.

 

ROUND-UP

- TyC Sports claims Barcelona have made a new offer for Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. Repeatedly tipped to swap Inter for Barca, Martinez's agents are believed to be in Spain to discuss another bid.

Ronald Koeman has handed Barca a four-player shortlist, including Lyon's Memphis Depay, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, Inter defender Stefan de Vrij and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia, claims Marca.

- FootMercato reports Madrid are considering a move for City attacker Riyad Mahrez.

- Sky Sport says Inter are convinced they will sign Arturo Vidal from Barca. It comes as Cagliari and Rennes try to sign veteran Nerazzurri defender Diego Godin, while Inter reportedly close in on Parma full-back Matteo Darmian.

- Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud has agreed a provisional contract to join Juventus as the Serie A champions wait on Barca veteran Luis Suarez, claims Sky Sports Italia. Juve have also been linked with Roma's Edin Dzeko, Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik and Alvaro Morata of Atletico Madrid. Andrea Pirlo's Juve have also eyed former forward Moise Kean but Everton are unwilling to do a loan deal, reports Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Juve striker Gonzalo Higuain, meanwhile, is set to complete his move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Leicester City want to sign Saint-Etienne defender Wesley Fofana but former Foxes boss Claude Puel is reluctant to part with the centre-back, according to Le10 Sport.

Could Antoine Griezmann leave Camp Nou now that Lionel Messi has committed to Barcelona for the 2020-21 season?

Griezmann endured a difficult first season at Barca following his arrival from Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool and Manchester United are among the teams who could tempt the Frenchman.

 

TOP STORY –  LIVERPOOL, UNITED CONSIDER GRIEZMANN

Liverpool and Manchester United are eyeing Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann, according to the Daily Mail.

Griezmann had reportedly been promised a leading role by new head coach Ronald Koeman had Lionel Messi left the club, but Barca's captain will remain at Camp Nou in 2020-21.

With Messi saying put, Premier League champions Liverpool, United and Arsenal are believed to be considering moves for Griezmann.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian claims Manchester City are preparing a second bid for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly. Pep Guardiola's City are hopeful they can find a compromise as United also reportedly eye the star defender.

- Sunday's La Gazzetta Sportiva is dominated by Barcelona pair Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal. Suarez is poised to join Serie A champions Juventus, while Vidal is set to move to Antonio Conte's Inter.

- While Suarez is reportedly close to swapping Barca for Juve, the Italian giants are considering alternatives if the deal falls through. AS Diario says Juve are weighing up Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata, while Roma's Edin Dzeko and former Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani have also been linked.

- According to Le10 Sport, Rennes are in discussions with Inter defender Diego Godin. The 34-year-old just finished his first season in Milan.

Milan remain one of the most active teams in the transfer market. Calciomercarto reports the Rossoneri have held talks with agent Fali Ramadani regarding Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, while Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic is still of interest to the club.

- Norwegian journalist Fredrik A.N. Filtvedt says United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had spoken to Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho many times and the England international wants to leave for Old Trafford.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone claimed his side's determination to churn out results to secure a LaLiga top-four finish during a season of upheaval augurs well for the future.

Simeone's side are on course to finish third in LaLiga after goals from Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey secured a 2-0 victory over Getafe in their penultimate league game of the season on Thursday.

It left Atleti two points clear of fourth-placed Sevilla – who drew 0-0 with Real Sociedad – and with a superior goal difference.

Simeone's side conclude their LaLiga campaign with a home match against Sociedad before their attention switches to the Champions League.

Atleti have a quarter-final match with RB Leipzig which will be played as a single-leg tie in Lisbon in August as part of a mini tournament to finish the competition.

It has been an impressive turnaround for Atleti and Simeone, who was under pressure earlier in the season but has now seen his side go 15 games unbeaten in LaLiga.

"There were many changes this year," Simeone said in a post-match media conference after the win over Getafe.

"Senior players left and new players came. In defence, for example. Periods of difficulty pass, but the team after the victory in Liverpool and the work since starting again has improved us.

"Being in the top four is important and a necessity for the club to continue growing.

"Is this a good signal for the Champions League? After the quarantine, except for the game against Real Betis and the first minutes against Getafe, the team has had work and a willingness to reach these good results."

Simeone started Diego Costa ahead of Alvaro Morata in attack against Getafe, with Llorente continuing in a playmaker role in behind.

And the Argentinian acknowledged the impressive displays of Llorente have made it difficult for his two leading strikers.

"Marcos has physical strength and danger with an assist, and with a goal. He is a boy to whom nobody gave anything and earns it day by day," added the Atleti coach.

"Costa has been through bad times and it is complex for the coach because Morata scores goals and whoever of the two is left out will be angry. 

"I have to guess the one that suits us in every game and maybe they are getting closer to being able to play together."

Alvaro Morata scored the fastest goal of the LaLiga season after just 51 seconds but Atletico Madrid had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.

Morata followed up his double in the win over Real Mallorca last Friday by striking in the first minute at Estadio de Balaidos.

Fran Beltran deservedly levelled early in the second half with his first goal of the season to move Celta seven points clear of the relegation zone with three matches to play, although third-bottom Mallorca have a game in hand.

Third-placed Atleti are unbeaten in 15 games and a draw keeps them on course to secure a Champions League spot.

Atleti could not have wished for a better start, Angel Correa taking a pass from Santiago Arias and picking out Morata for a tap in with less than a minute on the clock.

Celta responded to that early blow and Brais Mendez's deflected strike went into the side-netting before the midfielder curled a shot wide of the far post.

Diego Simeone's side could have doubled their lead late in the first half, but Correa was unable to apply the finish as he charged into the penalty area.

Celta were level just four minutes after the restart, Beltran not getting a clean contact on Mendez's cross but seeing his volley loop into the far corner with Jan Oblak helpless.

Oscar Garcia's men did not look like a side in danger of the drop and Mendez was denied by the busy Oblak, who then palmed Santi Mina's strike away for a corner.

Ivan Villar came on to replace injured Celta goalkeeper Ruben Blanco with nine minutes to play and he denied Thomas Lemar, with the home side also having a penalty appeal dismissed following a VAR check late on.

 

What does it mean? Atleti a step closer to Champions League spot

Atleti lead Sevilla, who have a game in hand, by three points and are nine better off than fifth-placed Villarreal in the battle for Champions League spots.

On the evidence of this showing, in which they could have secured a surprise win, Celta ought to have enough to avoid relegation.

Morata on a roll

Striker Morata led the line well for Atleti and was in the right place at the right time to score his third goal in two games right in a dream start.

He now has 16 goals for the season in all competitions and it looks like there will be more to come.

Llorente stifled

It was certainly not one of the Marcos Llorente's better nights as he struggled to stamp his authority on the game before being withdrawn midway through the second half.

What's next?

Atleti entertain Real Betis on Saturday, when Celta travel to mid-table Osasuna.

Alvaro Morata scored twice as Atletico Madrid maintained their unbeaten run since the resumption of LaLiga, easing to a 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca at the Wanda Metropolitano. 

Diego Simeone's in-form side followed up Tuesday's impressive performance in the 2-2 draw at Barcelona by brushing aside relegation-threatened opponents, in the process strengthening their position inside the top four. 

Morata made the most of Mallorca players encroaching too soon into the penalty area to score his first from the spot, VAR giving him a reprieve after Manolo Reina had saved his initial effort. 

Mallorca’s captain guessed correctly with the re-taken spot-kick too, yet Morata had enough height on his strike to beat the goalkeeper and move into double figures for league goals this season. 

The striker had missed an earlier opening as Aleti started impressively, while both Yannick Carrasco and Joao Felix failed to hit the target with excellent opportunities before the opener arrived in the 29th minute.  

Mallorca had thrashed nearest rivals Celta Vigo 5-1 at home in midweek and had their moments in attack before the break, Takefusa Kubo looking particularly bright.

However, any hope of the visitors claiming a bonus in the capital disappeared when Atleti doubled their advantage in added time at the end of the first half, the excellent Marcos Llorente - lining up on the right wing - crossing low for Morata to tap in at the back post.

Scoring just prior to the break allowed Atleti to coast through the second half, though they did add to their tally. 

Captain Koke seized on a weak clearing header to get away a strike that took a heavy deflection off Antonio Raillo, wrong-footing the helpless Reina.


What does it mean? From Atleti-low to riding high

It is now five wins and two draws for Simeone's squad since they returned to action in the middle of June, a run of form that has eased concerns about finishing outside the Champions League places.

His decision to use Llorente - viewed more as a holding midfielder when he signed from Real Madrid –  in an advanced position has been a masterstroke, with the 25-year-old catching the eye again out wide having also played recently as a secondary striker.

While the surge comes too late to mount a title challenge, things are looking up for Atletico. That is not the case for 18th-placed Mallorca, though, as they now have just four games left to try and retain their top-flight status.

Marcos makes his mark 

Morata will take the headlines with his first-half brace, yet Llorente produced the eye-catching performance. He completed over 93 per cent of his attempted passes and created two opportunities.

Little to celebrate for Joao Felix

It has been a testing first season at Atleti for Joao Felix. On the one-year anniversary of his big-money move from Benfica, the Portuguese forward fluffed his lines in front of goal, failing to hit the target with his three attempts before being replaced after just 54 minutes.

What's next? 

Atleti take on another team in relegation trouble on Tuesday, heading on the road to face Celta Vigo. Mallorca, meanwhile, have extra time to recover before they host Levante on Thursday.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has a long list of admirers.

From Manchester United to Real Madrid, the Lazio midfielder is a player in demand.

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, however, appear on track to sign the Serbia international.

 

TOP STORY –  PSG AND MILINKOVIC-SAVIC IN AGREEMENT

Paris Saint-Germain have reached a salary agreement with Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, according to Paris Fans.

Milinkovic-Savic has been linked to Premier League giants Manchester United and LaLiga powerhouse Real Madrid.

But PSG have an agreement with Milinkovic-Savic for a salary around €7million a year, while the deal could also include Laizo's Adam Marusic.

Firstly, PSG would like to seal the departure of Julian Draxler, who has been linked to Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

 

ROUND-UP

Neymar still wants to join Barcelona at the end of the season. The front page of Monday's Mundo Deportivo says the PSG star remains committed to pushing through a return to Barca at all costs.

- The Telegraph says Manchester City have entered the chase for Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell. The Englishman has been heavily linked to Chelsea.

- Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham prefers Borussia Dortmund over United, reports the Birmingham Mail. The 16-year-old is wanted by both clubs, while he has already toured United's facilities.

Marco Verratti and Alvaro Morata are being linked with returns to Serie A. Tuttosport claims the possible arrival of Italian head coach Massimiliano Allegri at PSG could see Verratti and Juventus' Miralem Pjanic swap clubs. Atletico Madrid forward Morata, meanwhile, has been in contact with Inter as Edinson Cavani prepares to move to the Spanish capital on a free transfer.

- Admirers of Ismael Bennacer will struggle to sign the Milan midfielder. City, Madrid and PSG have been linked to Bennacer. But, Calciomercato says the 22-year-old's €50m release clause is not active until 2021.

Barca's bid to bring Lautaro Martinez to Camp Nou is no closer to completion. Junior Firpo has emerged as the key to unlocking the deadlock between Barca and Inter. Junior Firpo is valued at €41m by Barca, but FCInterNews says the Nerazzurri consider the defender's transfer value closer to €20m.

Federico Valverde called his crucial tackle on Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata in Real Madrid's Supercopa de Espana final success in January "a clean foul".

Uruguay international Valverde was shown a straight red card for a tactical foul on Morata, who was set to shoot in a one-on-one with Thibaut Courtois in the 25th minute of extra time.

Atletico were unable to convert the free-kick or make the most of their numerical advantage in the closing stages, with Madrid going on to triumph 4-1 on penalties in Jeddah.

Valverde only received a one-game ban for the challenge, which he says was a calculated decision taken with no malice.

Asked about the incident, Valverde told ABC: "I don't know if it put me in the heart of Real Madrid fans, but I am not proud of committing a foul against an opponent.

"I don't know anyone who likes fouls. The ideal is to end a game without making any, but fouls are part of football.

"But what I would really not be proud of is not doing anything for my team in that, or any, passage of play.

"It was a clean foul, not done to injure, of course!"

Valverde has made 32 appearances in all competitions for Madrid in 2019, 23 of which have come as part of Zinedine Zidane's starting line-up.

However, the 21-year-old does not feel like he has firmly established himself as one of the team's leading players.

"I don't feel like I've experienced my confirmation [as a Madrid player]. I continue with the mentality of the first day I entered the biggest dressing room in the world," said Valverde.

"There are many players here who are stars, who have been confirmed for a long time and I know from them that, to feel like you have earned a place in the team, you have to toil a lot beforehand. I am just toiling. My goals are clear in my head: learn and give everything."

Asked if he would like to spend the rest of his career with Madrid, Valverde replied: "It's the dream. I don't want to be anywhere other than at Real Madrid.

"I would like nothing more than to be useful and necessary for my dream team."

Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata has spoken of his regret at leaving the club's academy when he was climbing through the youth ranks.

Morata was a boyhood Atleti fan but left for Getafe in 2007 before joining Real Madrid a year later.

In two spells with Los Blancos, Morata won two LaLiga titles, two Copas del Rey and two Champions League medals.

Between those stints, Morata collected two Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia crowns with Juventus and went on to endure an indifferent spell with Chelsea before re-joining Atleti in January 2019.

Spain striker Morata says he is now happier than at any other point of his career.

"When I was a kid, I was a ballboy at Atletico," Morata said during an Instagram Live video with tennis player Fabio Fognini.

"Then I went through a period where I didn't enjoy it so much. You know, it's the path a young kid goes down to be a professional.

"You start with agents, sponsors. I felt a lot of pressure, I wasn't starting games.

"I thought about leaving. Then I spent a year at Getafe and, you know what, it was an amazing year.

"Then I went to Real Madrid, but my dad and I used to go to the [Vicente] Calderon and I dreamed of playing there.

"However, unfortunately, I had to play there for other clubs and not with Atletico, but I always wanted to. What I have lived stays, but now I am happier than ever."

Morata also spoke about the toughest defenders he has faced in his career.

"[Giorgio] Chiellini, I don't know if he does it on purpose, but when he meets me, he always destroys me," Morata said with a laugh.

"Sergio Ramos is also a tough defender, while when you go against [Virgil] Van Dijk it seems like you hit a mountain."

 

Federico Valverde was named the MVP of the Supercopa de Espana final despite a cynical extra-time red card that prompted the Real Madrid midfielder to apologise to Alvaro Morata.

Ten-man Madrid beat city rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties after a goalless draw in Saudi Arabia.

But former Madrid star Morata might have proven the hero for Atleti in the 115th minute had Valverde not taken drastic action, chopping down the striker from behind as he bore down on goal.

Atleti reacted furiously to the challenge, and their mood was not improved when Thibaut Courtois made a crucial save from Thomas Partey in the shoot-out.

Madrid won 4-1 and Valverde was then pronounced the man of the match. Facing the media due to the award, he offered an apology.

"I apologise to Alvaro Morata," he said. "I know it's not good what I did, but I didn't have any other option."

Valverde has consistently impressed this season and added of a breakout campaign: "I'm very happy. It's something you train for, you work for, you fight for, to have good results.

"Things are working out well. I'm getting minutes on the pitch, playing, the team is winning. It's fantastic. I'm enjoying every minute of my life, an amazing time.

"As well as winning titles with the team, I am also going to become a father. So many positive things are happening and I'm trying my best to enjoy them."

Angel Correa stunned Barcelona with a late winner as Atletico Madrid snatched an improbable 3-2 semi-final victory in the Supercopa de Espana.

Barcelona had 75 per cent of possession in the opening 45 minutes in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and looked set to ease to victory once they got over the shock of shipping a goal to substitute Koke after 20 seconds of the second half.

Lionel Messi equalised, Antoine Griezmann headed Barcelona ahead against his former club, and Messi and Gerard Pique both had goals disallowed by VAR for marginal offside decisions.

But against the momentum, which suggested a Barcelona landslide, Atletico equalised when Vitolo was hacked down by Neto and Alvaro Morata fired home the ensuing 81st-minute penalty.

Atletico wanted a second penalty moments later when Pique handballed, but their frustration at not getting that decision was forgotten when Morata slipped Correa through and the Argentinian forward fired home the fifth and final goal of a remarkable game.

Now Real Madrid stand between Atletico and the Supercopa trophy, with the final on Sunday at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium.

Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata scored second-half goals as Atletico Madrid ended a run of five successive away draws in LaLiga, recording a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Real Betis.

Diego Simeone's decision to send on Correa for the ineffectual Thomas Lemar early in the second half reaped a rapid return, the forward finding the net just 97 seconds after his introduction off the bench.

After blocking a clearance from the dithering Alex Moreno, the Argentina international reacted quickly to seize on the loose ball and then round goalkeeper Joel Robles, allowing him to convert into an unguarded net.

Correa's classy finish put his side on course for a first triumph on the road for Atletico since a 2-0 result against Real Mallorca way back on September 25.

He also had a hand in their second, too, as it was his low cross that allowed Morata, who had a header correctly ruled out for offside during the first half at Benito Villamarin, to turn the ball in at the front post.

Betis did get a consolation in added time, Marc Bartra converting from inside the penalty area with the aid of a deflection, the goal given after a lengthy VAR consultation that infuriated an already raucous home crowd.

Both teams had hit the woodwork in the first half, a combination of Robles and a post denying a rising drive from Morata after the forward had been put clean through on goal by Joao Felix.

At the other end, Atletico needed the help of the crossbar before the break to keep out a header from Betis defender Zouhair Feddal, with the visitors second best before Correa's intervention on proceedings.

Sergio Canales saw a low shot deflect wide off an upright when Betis only trailed by one, before Morata tucked in his ninth of the season to put his team out of reach, even with Bartra's late, late strike.


What does it mean? Atletico clinging on in title race

It may not even be the halfway stage of the season, but it is clear Atletico can ill-afford to lose any more ground in the title race if they are to remain serious contenders.

The gap to the summit still sits at a rather sizeable seven points, but at least back-to-back wins prior to the mid-season break have Simeone's squad sitting in the top four.

Angel makes festive impact

Not even Simeone can have expected his first change to leave such a mark on the contest.

Correa immediately provided some much-needed energy in attack, with his determination to close down Moreno leading to the crucial opener.

Lemar the fall guy again

The Frenchman's withdrawal was hardly a surprise; he has completed 90 minutes just once in LaLiga in this campaign.

Lemar had just 15 total touches and failed to create a chance or have a shot during his time on the pitch.

Key Opta facts

- Angel Correa is the only substitute to both score and assist in the same LaLiga game this season. 
- Only Getafe's Angel Rodriguez (12) has scored more goals than Alvaro Morata (9) this season in all competitions among Spanish players from the top five European leagues. 
- Marc Bartra has scored in back-to-back LaLiga games for the first time. He has as many league goals in his last two appearances as he managed in his previous 63. 
- Atletico have kept a clean sheet in the first half in eight of their nine LaLiga away games, but they have only scored in one of those fixtures.
-  No other player has been caught offside more often than Morata in the top five European leagues this season (23).

What's next?

Atletico will be at home to Levante on January 4 when the league season resumes early in 2020, while Betis are on the road to Deportivo Alaves the following day.

Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata scored second-half goals as Atletico Madrid ended a run of five successive away draws in LaLiga, recording a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Real Betis.

Diego Simeone's decision to send on Correa for the ineffectual Thomas Lemar early in the second half reaped a rapid return, the forward finding the net just 97 seconds after his introduction off the bench.

After blocking a clearance from the dithering Alex Moreno, the Argentina international reacted quickly to seize on the loose ball and then round goalkeeper Joel Robles, allowing him to convert into an unguarded net.

Correa's classy finish put his side on course for a first triumph on the road for Atletico since a 2-0 result against Real Mallorca way back on September 25.

He also had a hand in their second, too, as it was his low cross that allowed Morata, who had a header correctly ruled out for offside during the first half at Benito Villamarin, to turn the ball in at the front post.

Betis did get a late consolation in added time, Marc Bartra converting from inside the penalty area with the aid of a deflection, the goal given after a lengthy VAR consultation that infuriated an already raucous home crowd.

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