Atletico Madrid consolidated their Champions League qualification hopes with a 2-0 win at Elche in Diego Simeone's 400th LaLiga game in charge of the club.

Simeone's side battled to a 1-0 victory over rivals Real Madrid on Sunday, and were soon ahead at Estadio Martinez Valero when Matheus Cunha opened the scoring in the first half.

Rodrigo de Paul added a second after the interval and Elche rarely threatened Jan Oblak's goal in response, failing to have a shot on target all game/until the Xth minute.

It mattered little for the boisterous home crowd as Real Mallorca's stalemate at Sevilla on Wednesday confirmed safety for Elche, while Atletico climbed into third – six points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis with two games to go.

Sime Vrsaljko was forced off with injury after just six minutes before Cunha curled a presentable opportunity over in the opening exchanges.

Elche had scored two of their last three league goals from set-pieces and both Lucas Boye and Pedro Bigas headed narrowly off target from corners, but Atleti struck first.

Cunha opened the scoring after 28 minutes when substitute Renan Lodi latched onto Antonio Griezmann's lofted pass to drill across for the Brazil forward to poke home.

Elche fans were in celebratory mood after the interval as news filtered through of Mallorca's stalemate with Sevilla, while Bigas had to clear off the line as Cunha's deflected strike looped goalward.

A slick passing move resulted in Atletico doubling their lead and sealing victory, with De Paul exchanging a quick one-two with Griezmann, who unselfishly squared for the midfielder to tap-in.

Substitute Luis Suarez was denied his 12th goal of the LaLiga season by the offside flag in stoppage time, as Atleti cruised to victory.

What does it mean? Milestone man Simeone continues Elche dominance

Simeone's side eased to their 10th straight LaLiga victory over Elche, who have not defeated Atletico in all competitions since March 2002.

Victory capped a special day for Simeone, who became just the third manager to coach 400 LaLiga games with a single club, winning 244 of those matches across his 11-year spell in the Spanish capital.

Atletico have all but secured Champions League football for next season, with Betis requiring a remarkable turnaround in the last two games to earn a place in the top four.

 

Lovely Lodi

Lodi was named among the substitutes but was soon introduced following the injury to Vrsaljko, and the substitute offered Simeone a timely reminder of his qualities. 

The Brazil international was at his creative best down the left flank, supplying a game-high three chances in a dominant performance against Elche's right-back Helibelton Palacios.

Goalless Griezmann

Griezmann played a vital role in Atletico's goals, delicately chipping to left wing-back Lodi prior to his assist and teeing up De Paul when one-on-one with Edgar Badia, but the France star's woes in front of goal continued at Elche.

The forward has failed to score in his last 13 league appearances, his longest goal drought in a single season in LaLiga since January 2012 (14 – his longest run without scoring in a single season in the top-flight).

What's next?

Atletico can confirm their top-four spot by defeating fourth-placed Sevilla at home on Sunday, while Elche visit Celta Vigo on the same day.

Diego Simeone was full of praise for match-winner Renan Lodi after the left-back's two goals fired Atletico Madrid to an important 2-0 win over Celta Vigo.

The Brazilian struck once in each half, with both goals being assisted by Geoffrey Kondogbia as Atletico moved into LaLiga's top four ahead of rivals Barcelona, who host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Lodi scored his first brace for Atletico Madrid in 105 appearances in all competitions, becoming the only defender to score two goals in a game for the club during Simeone's time as coach.

Kondogbia, meanwhile, set up two goals in the same league game for the second time in his career, last doing so for Valencia against Sevilla in March 2018.

Speaking after the win, Simeone was keen to highlight not only Lodi's quality but also his work-rate, saying the full-back fully deserved his moment of glory.

"[I am] very happy for Renan," the Atletico boss said. 

"Last season he had fewer minutes than in his first year, but we always told him that due to his characteristics he could be very dangerous.

"The most important thing is what is not seen, [how] he works.

"[Fellow defender] Reinildo arrived [from Lille in January] and the first thing he did was try to help him. They are [both] noble, whole people, who are committed whether they play or not.

"In the end football rewards [those people], giving you moments like today."

Atletico Madrid boosted their hopes of a top-four finish in LaLiga, as Renan Lodi netted twice in a hard-fought 2-0 home win over Celta Vigo.

Towards the end of a turgid first period, Lodi fired a deflected effort past Matias Diruto to give Diego Simeone's team the lead, then volleyed in a second on the hour, with Geoffrey Kondogbia providing assists for both goals. 

Simeone's solid rearguard stood firm as Atletico closed out the win in the latter stages, piling the pressure on top-four rivals Barcelona, who can move level with the Spanish champions by beating Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

After Atletico started slowly, Reinildo was forced into a brilliant block by Franco Cervi after 15 minutes.

Correa failed to meet Marcos Llorente's inviting cut-back at the other end, but Atletico did break the deadlock on 35 minutes.

Lodi was the scorer, beating Hugo Mallo before firing a low shot past Diruto, who looked to have been wrong-footed by a touch from the Celta skipper.

Atletico Madrid cruised into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey thanks to a 5-0 rout of Rayo Majadahonda on Thursday.

Diego Simeone fielded a strong starting XI for the game, which was played at the Wanda Metropolitano despite Majadahonda being drawn as the home team, and they never looked like they would suffer an upset after Matheus Cunha's early opener.

Renan Lodi and Luis Suarez then made it three before the interval as the Colchoneros threatened to run riot.

Substitute Griezmann – who later hobbled off with an injury – added a fourth after a fine move, before Joao Felix wrapped up the scoring with a sumptuous finish. 

Atleti's relentless early pressure told after 17 minutes when Matheus Cunha fired home after Yannick Carrasco had blocked an attempted clearance.

Lodi then opened his account for the season nine minutes later, superbly firing into Alvaro Fernandez's top-left corner from 15 yards after being picked out by Thomas Lemar.

Suarez, who had earlier been denied by Fernandez, added a third four minutes before the interval, the Uruguay international slotting home Marcos Llorente's low cross from 12 yards.

Simeone's men started the second half at a sluggish pace, but they added a fourth in the 67th minute when Griezmann slammed the ball into the roof of Fernandez's roof after combining superbly with fellow substitute Angel Correa. 

Joao Felix added further gloss to the scoreline with 11 minutes remaining, cutting in from the left and whipping the ball into the top corner. 


What does it mean? Griezmann injury mars routine win

Given the strength of Simeone's starting XI it was little surprise to see Atleti blow their less illustrious opponents away with consummate ease.

The only blot on their copybook was the injury to Griezmann, who was visibly upset as he walked down the tunnel.

Suarez endures

Suarez's typically composed finish was his first Copa del Rey goal for Atleti and his 20th overall. Since his arrival in Spain ahead of the 2014-15 season, only Lionel Messi (27) has scored more goals in the competition.

Giralt's game cut short

Majadahonda goalkeeper Gorka Giralt was cruelly denied the chance to test himself against some of Spanish football's biggest names after suffering a hand injury inside the first minute. The 26-year-old cut a despondent figure as he walked off the pitch to be replaced by Fernandez.

What's next?

Fourth-placed Atleti return to LaLiga action on Sunday when they visit Villarreal, who sit four places and four points beneath them.

Brazil boss Tite has included uncapped pair Claudinho and Raphinha in a 25-man squad for a trio of World Cup qualifiers in September.

The Selecao are quickly back in action after the disappointment of missing out on Copa America glory on home soil, with games against Chile, Argentina - who defeated Brazil in the final - and Peru coming up next month.

Claudinho receives his opportunity after helping his country secure Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020, including starting in the 2-1 final win over Spain.

The midfielder has made a move to Europe to continue his club career, his signing announced by Zenit not long after the Olympics tournament had concluded.

Raphinha, meanwhile, gets an opportunity after impressing in his debut season with Leeds United. The winger - signed from Rennes - scored six goals in 30 Premier League appearances under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa.

His tally of nine assists was the most by any player for Leeds, who finished ninth on their return to the top tier, while also completing 45.53 per cent of his 123 attempted dribbles.

"We've been following Raphinha for some time now, since he moved to the Premier League," Tite explained at a media conference.

"We look for information in every way, and he has an accentuated dribbling technique. He has scored a number of important goals too, a decisive player."

Tite has also selected Lucas Verissimo as well as the evergreen Dani Alves, Brazil's 38-year-old captain at the Olympics.

However, Atletico Madrid left-back Renan Lodi, who started the 1-0 Copa America final loss to Argentina, is a surprising omission from the list, while there is also no place for Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz.

"When we say competition at a high level, this is it," said Tite of the tough selection calls he had to make. "They will continue to be followed.

"It's for Douglas to return to his best level, play a lot for his club and come back. Renan Lodi has not been participating in the games, but in training.

"I talked to him, because it's not because of an individual mistake that he doesn't come back, he doesn't have that here. He's a great player."

Brazil have a rematch with rivals Argentina on September 5, two days after a tricky trip to Chile. They round out the run of qualifying fixtures for Qatar 2022 by hosting Peru on September 10.


Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Lucas Veríssimo (Benfica), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Danilo (Juventus), Daniel Alves (Sao Paulo), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Claudinho (Zenit), Bruno Guimaraes (Lyon), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool); Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Richarlison (Everton), Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Barbosa Flamengo), Raphinha (Leeds United).

Luis Suarez scored an 88th-minute winner to earn Atletico Madrid a dramatic 2-1 comeback win over Osasuna that keeps their LaLiga title hopes in their own hands heading into the final matchday.

Their dreams of a first title since the 2013-14 season appeared to have suffered a damaging blow 15 minutes from full-time when Ante Budimir struck completely against the run of play in Sunday's clash at Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Simeone's side had earlier wasted a string of opportunities, twice hit the post and had strikes from Stefan Savic and Yannick Carrasco ruled out, though they dug deep to turn the game around in the final eight minutes.

Substitute Renan Lodi equalised and Suarez atoned for some earlier misses by firing in a winner for Atleti, the result moving them two points above Real Madrid – the only side that can now catch them – with one game left in the season.

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