Reggae Girlz captain Kadijah ‘Bunny’ Shaw scored a brace as Manchester City Women defeated Leicester City Women 4-0 at the Manchester City Academy Stadium on Sunday.

Shaw scored in the 24th and 79th minutes to lead City to their first win of the season.

Shaw opened the scoring for City who took a 1-0 into the interval.

Lauren Hemp made it 2-0 in the 72nd minute before Shaw put the game to bed.

Yui Hasegawa added a fourth two minutes from the end of regulation to give Manchester City Women their first three points of the season and up to eighth in the league.

Manchester City Women were dominant throughout the game taking 23 shots with eight on target.

Shaw now has three goals this season.

Karim Benzema should collect the Ballon d'Or trophy in Paris on Monday. The votes have been counted, and nobody seriously expects another outcome, even with football's propensity for surprise when it comes to a ballot.

But as if to emphasise his outstanding candidacy for France Football's coveted world player of the year award, Benzema scored and captained Real Madrid to victory over Barcelona in El Clasico, football's biggest domestic game.

One man does not make a team, but without Benzema it was a guileless Real Madrid that took a hideous 4-0 whacking by Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu in March.

It was back to normal service on Sunday, the skipper delivering the sort of accomplished centre-forward performance he has repeated time and again in recent seasons, playing a key role in a 3-1 win that sent Madrid three points clear of Xavi's upstart Barca at the top of LaLiga.

This is imperial phase Benzema, at the most revered and most productive stage of his career. Last season, he hit 44 goals in 46 games for Madrid, helping Carlo Ancelotti's team win not only the Spanish league but the Champions League.

Long gone are the days when he was a subordinate to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and even perhaps Gareth Bale for a time. In his 14th season now at Madrid, Benzema is the great survivor, the man who rises to the big occasions.

He came off in the 88th minute of this game to a standing ovation, having got the better of rival number nine Robert Lewandowski, whose Clasico debut was one to forget.

 

Barcelona's thumping win at this stadium was a curio in Madrid's 2021-22 season and rightly treated as such. With Benzema ruled out by a leg injury, Carlo Ancelotti deployed Luka Modric in a false nine position to which he was spectacularly ill-suited, and Barcelona ran the hosts ragged, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice in the rout.

El Clasico has not been Benzema's most productive fixture, and it has been the Frenchman's longevity as much as anything that means only Lionel Messi has had more goal involvements in such matches during the 21st century. Messi had 40 (26 goals and 14 assists), and Benzema now has 21 (12 goals and nine assists).

In LaLiga, Benzema had played in 25 of these games before Sunday's encounter, winning only eight (D5 L12) and scoring just seven goals – including just one goal since April 2016.

Considering his overall record for Madrid showed Benzema hitting 327 goals in 614 games, this represented a disappointing tally.

LaLiga newcomer Lewandowski, meanwhile, could point to six goals in eight games on Champions League duty against Madrid, four of those coming for Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the 2012-13 semi-final. Nobody has scored more against Madrid in the history of that competition.

Would this be a shoot-out between Benzema and Lewandowski? If so, first blood went to Benzema. Toni Kroos, being grappled with by Sergio Busquets, prodded the ball into space for Vinicius Junior down the left, and the Brazilian's acceleration took him clear of the Barcelona backline.

Four Barcelona defenders gave desperate chase, and when Ter Stegen palmed away the winger's shot, it ran only as far as the unattended Benzema.

He had skilfully held his run, and from 12 yards side-footed through that thicket of defenders, who had all but forgotten about him.

Benzema tore away towards the corner flag, kissing the badge on his shirt, arms open wide, a familiar pose in these parts.

Barcelona had conceded just once in their opening eight LaLiga games. Here they were up against it, yet they should have been level in the 25th minute when Raphinha's low ball across goal from the right was scooped over by a stretching Lewandowski at the far post.

It was quite some miss, particularly by the standards of the man who scored 50 goals for Bayern Munich last term.

Madrid's second goal came in the 35th minute and was rather splendid, Federico Valverde slamming into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards for his fourth goal of the season, the most he has managed in a single LaLiga campaign.

Barcelona had twice as many shots as Madrid in the first half (8-4) and 62.3 per cent of possession, but they trailed 3-2 in attempts on target – and by two clear goals.

All the passing accuracy in the world is no assurance of goals (Barca led this metric in the first half too – 91.8 per cent to Madrid's 84.4).

Benzema thought he had added a third for Madrid when he struck in style early in the second half, but he had strayed offside before receiving the ball.

Barcelona had plenty of chances (they finished the game 2.26 to 1.44 ahead on expected goals), and Lewandowski had a strong case for a penalty in the 74th minute when Dani Carvajal barged him over, but that did not even go to a VAR check.

 

Finally, Barca got a goal when Ferran Torres tucked in from close range in the 83rd minute, but hopes of a point were scotched in stoppage time when Rodrygo's penalty, after Eric Garcia trod on his toes, wrapped up the home win.

Benzema by then had a comfortable seat at pitchside, resting up before heading off for what should be a coronation at the Theatre du Chatelet in his home capital city.

Barcelona's unbeaten start in LaLiga is over, and they face likely Champions League elimination before the World Cup rolls around.

This is sweet music to Madrid ears, Benzema conducting the orchestra with aplomb once again.

Real Madrid leapfrogged Barcelona at the summit of LaLiga as goals from Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde and Rodrygo sealed a 3-1 triumph in El Clasico on Sunday.

Barca had conceded just one goal in eight league games this season prior to the visit to the Santiago Bernabeu, but two clinical finishes from Benzema and Valverde saw them two goals down at the interval.

Xavi's side pulled one back with seven minutes remaining through Ferran Torres, but the hosts restored their two-goal advantage in stoppage time courtesy of Rodrygo's penalty.

The result marked Barca's first league defeat of the campaign, with victory for Los Blancos moving them three points clear of their great rivals at the top of the table.

Madrid went ahead in the 12th minute when Benzema fired home from 12 yards via a deflection from Sergi Roberto after Marc-Andre ter Stegen had raced off his line to deny Vinicius Junior.

Barca were presented with a golden opportunity to restore parity in the 25th minute, yet a stretching Robert Lewandowski somehow managed to scoop the ball over the crossbar from just a few yards out following Raphinha's cross.

Xavi's men were punished for that miss 10 minutes before the interval when Valverde whipped into Ter Stegen's bottom-right corner from 20 yards.

Benzema thought he had scored a wonderful second shortly after half-time, but his curled effort from 20 yards was ruled out for offside.

Substitute Torres reduced the deficit with a simple finish at the back post after superb work from Ansu Fati, yet Rodrygo wrapped the win up for Madrid from the spot after he had been tripped by Eric Garcia – the decision given following a VAR review.

 

Lautaro Martinez believes Sunday's 2-0 win over Salernitana proved Inter have matured as a result of honest conversations that occurred in the changing room during their difficult run.

Their win at San Siro made it four games unbeaten across all competitions for the Nerazzurri, though that run followed a sequence of five defeats in 10 at the start of the season.

Before Sunday's game, Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni told Sky Italia their recent improvement came after purposeful talks among the players behind the scenes.

Bastoni indicated Inter came to understand there were too many players complaining about others, with this realisation helping force a change in attitude.

While Martinez – scorer of the first goal on Sunday – did not want to elaborate on specifics, he feels Inter are past their issues.

"What we say in the locker room stays there," he said to Sky Italia. "We talked a lot after the defeats, we started working and it shows on the pitch.

"This victory means that we have grown and matured after the match against Barcelona at home.

"We are fine, we have to continue like this."

Asked if Inter are "back", he added: "We are on the right path, we have moved on."

Inter's early season struggles led to head coach Simone Inzaghi coming under pressure, though he insists he was never particularly concerned, well aware such scrutiny is to be expected in his job.

He said: "It is normal that things weren't working out, we looked at 84 points last year as a defeat, behind Milan.

"We come from three wins and a draw – what I look at now is on the field. There are pressures and there always will be – I know what job I'm doing.

"We had control of this match from the start to the end. We have to continue like this, things are going well and they have to get better."

Xavi brought Jules Kounde straight back into Barcelona's team for Sunday's Clasico clash with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Kounde, a big-money signing from Sevilla, returned to training earlier this week after recovering from a hamstring issue sustained on international duty with France in September.

His return to the starting XI, which marks his Clasico debut, came at the expense of Gerard Pique, who was culpable for one of Inter's goals in Wednesday's 3-3 draw in the Champions League, which left Barca on the brink of an early exit from the competition.

Frenkie de Jong also came into the team, replacing Gavi, while Marcos Alonso made way for Alejandro Balde at left-back.

Xavi stuck with the same front three that started against Inter, with Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha flanking Robert Lewandowski, the latter two, like Kounde, making their Clasico debuts.

Lewandowski has scored six goals in eight meetings with Real Madrid, all in the Champions League, making him the player who has scored the most goals against Los Blancos in the history of that competition.

Sergio Busquets, meanwhile, will equal Francisco Gento (21 wins) as the player with the most victories in Clasico history in all competitions should Barca win.

Carlo Ancelotti was unable to call on goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has failed to recover from injury in time to feature for the hosts, so Andriy Lunin retained his place.

Ancelotti was otherwise able to name what many would consider a first-choice XI, spearheaded by Karim Benzema, who has been involved in 20 goals in 38 Clasicos, a record only bettered by Lionel Messi in the 21st century (40).
 

Inter clinched their third win in four games as they comfortably beat Salernitana 2-0 at San Siro.

Simone Inzaghi had come under pressure after a shaky start to the season saw Inter lose five of their first 10 matches, but they are now unbeaten in four and built on Wednesday's promising 3-3 draw away to Barcelona with three points in Serie A.

Lautaro Martinez's long-range effort gave Inter a first-half lead on Sunday, and although the hosts struggled to add to that initially, Salernitana rarely looked capable of posing much of a threat.

A brilliant Nicolo Barella goal put Inter in complete control just before the hour, ensuring the Nerazzurri moved to within two points of the top four for at least a few hours.

The visitors' resistance lasted just 13 minutes as Martinez's 25-yard strike bobbled awkwardly on its way past Luigi Sepe and into the bottom-left corner.

Edin Dzeko headed agonisingly wide as Inter looked to put the game beyond Salernitana, before Sepe kept out Milan Skriniar's powerful close-range effort.

But Inter's best opportunity to double the lead before the break came on the stroke of half-time – Martinez missed the ball as he tried to backheel Denzel Dumfries' pass goalwards, with Sepe saving a point-blank header when the Argentinian was offered a fortunate reprieve.

Boulaye Dia forced Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana into action early in the second half, but the points were wrapped up four minutes later.

Barella brought Hakan Calhanoglu's pinpoint pass down exquisitely in the box before flicking the ball past a defender and drilling left-footed into the bottom-right corner to seal a routine triumph.

What does it mean? – Inzaghi building positivity again

It was not so long ago that Inzaghi looked in real danger of losing his job. He certainly is not out of the woods yet, but things are going in the right direction.

With three wins and a draw – which itself was very nearly a victory – in the past 12 days, Inter are beginning to look a little more like their usual selves.

While this may not have been a spectacular performance, you have to credit the professionalism in Inter's display. Salernitana hardly threatened at all.

Calhanoglu pulls the strings

Much of what was good about Inter's performance stemmed from Calhanoglu. The Turkey international's four key passes led the match, and he also got an assist for Barella's goal with that wonderful long-range pass into the box.

Piatek virtually anonymous

Former Milan forward Krzysztof Piatek was particularly quiet for Salernitana. He probably was not helped by being seemingly shunted out to the right, but even then he might have been a bit more involved. The Poland international was unsurprisingly withdrawn just after Inter's second goal, having had just one attempt, though he did get it on target at least.

What's next?

Inter go to Fiorentina on Saturday, while Salernitana host Spezia the same day.

Diego Simeone has suggested Atletico Madrid were never interested in offering Cristiano Ronaldo a route out of Manchester United due to his association with Real Madrid.

Atletico were one of a number of European clubs, along with the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Napoli, to have been linked with the United forward in the transfer window.

Simeone remained quiet on the speculation at the time, though supporters made their thoughts clear by unfurling a "CR7 NOT WELCOME" banner during pre-season.

However, with Ronaldo remaining at Old Trafford until at least January, Simeone says the 37-year-old making a move to Atleti was never feasible due to the unrest it would have caused among the fanbase.

"What these little birds [journalists] have said is far from what happened," Simeone told Tigo Sports reporter Martin Liberma.

"People sometimes speak to tell you what they want to tell, not what actually happens. Ronaldo is an absolute benchmark for Real Madrid.

"You wouldn't see [Martin] Palermo or [Juan Roman] Riquelme play for River Plate or [Ariel] Ortega playing for Boca Juniors. There are certain situations that are very clear."

Simeone added: "I remember in pre-season when a fan behind me, without knowing what was happening, yelled 'Cholo, careful, it's not the Champions League at all costs'.

"I liked that because it's a healthy reflection of what I felt at that time. We signed Luis Suarez [from Barcelona] before, but that is different to the Ronaldo case."

Ronaldo scored 450 goals across nine seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, winning two LaLiga titles and the Champions League four times.

He has since spent three years with Juventus and is now in his second campaign back at United, but he was reportedly eager to move on in the close season.

While distancing Atleti from a move, Simeone respects what the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has achieved throughout a remarkable career.

"I have no doubt Ronaldo will score goals again as he's done it all his life," he added. "It's impossible for him to walk away if he's mentally as strong as he's always been."

Antoine Griezmann apologised to Atletico Madrid fans for the "damage" he may have done when initially leaving the club for Barcelona in 2019.

Griezmann joined Barca in 2019 when the Catalans triggered his €120million release clause, ending a long courtship by the Blaugrana.

Barca had been heavily linked with Griezmann in 2018, but the player opted to remain with Atletico, making his announcement in a documentary called 'La Decision'.

Although Griezmann stayed then, many Atletico fans were frustrated by his conduct, with the documentary – echoing his NBA hero LeBron James' 'The Decision' – seen by some as an unnecessary sideshow that stoked speculation.

The France forward ended up joining Barca the following year, but his spell at Camp Nou was generally underwhelming, and he returned to Atletico last season on loan, a deal that was made permanent on Monday.

In his first LaLiga game since signing a permanent deal with Atletico, Griezmann scored the winner in a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao to take his league tally for the club to 100, and afterwards he felt it necessary to offer an olive branch to supporters.

"In the end, I want to apologise," he said.

"I know that people want to hear it from my mouth: I apologise for the damage I may have done to fans.

"But the greatest forgiveness I want to ask for is on the pitch, giving everything for the team and with [games] like this."

Atletico completed the signing of Griezmann after opting to tread carefully with the amount of minutes he was being given earlier this season.

According to reports, Atletico would have been obliged to pay €40m for Griezmann if he had played more than 30 minutes in a certain percentage of their games.

As such, Diego Simeone routinely brought Griezmann on after the 60th minute, and in the end that tactic seemingly forced Barca to accept a significantly reduced deal apparently worth just under €20m.

"Personally, it was complicated, but I tried not to show it," Griezmann said of the contractual quirk.

"I know I was playing for a coach I love very much and some team-mates who deserve the best of me.

"If I have to play, I give 100 per cent, and if I don't [play], I encourage my team-mates. Then, when I come on, I try to make a difference."

Dusan Vlahovic says the Juventus players are firmly behind Massimiliano Allegri after they stopped the rot with a 1-0 Derby della Mole win at Torino.

Head coach Allegri has come under increasing pressure after Juve were beaten 2-0 by Maccabi Haifa this week on the back of a Serie A defeat at Milan.

Bianconeri president Andrea Agnelli came out in support of Allegri following the midweek loss to Maccabi, which left the Turin giants surely facing a Champions League exit.

Allegri ordered his players in for a training retreat ahead of the clash with Torino, putting them through double sessions.

Juve responded with a derby victory on Saturday, Vlahovic scoring the only goal at the game in the second half at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino.

And the Serbia striker made it clear the players want Allegri to stay on.

"We knew it wouldn't be easy because it's the derby and they're a tough team," said Vlahovic. "We won in their home, and it was really important to us, we remain together and united.

"Now, we are working game by game, and the message is that Juve will never give up.

"We're all behind the coach, and you learn more in difficulties, I'm available, and I give 100 per cent, and I want to keep going like this."

Juve's win against their city rivals was their first away from home this season.

Frenkie de Jong's future at Barcelona remains up in the air after a drawn-out saga ahead of the season.

The Dutch midfielder had interest from Barcelona but wanted to stay at Camp Nou.

However, De Jong's opportunities have been limited this season, perhaps encouraging further bids.

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL MOVE IN FOR BARCELONA'S DE JONG

Liverpool have entered the race to sign the unsettled De Jong from Barcelona, claims SPORT.

De Jong resisted interest in from United with a strong desire to play Champions League football, which Jurgen Klopp's side can offer.

Liverpool midfielders Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner are all out of contract at the end of this season, when Arthur's loan will also expire, so the club are assessing their options.

The domestic struggles of the Reds could precipitate January transfer activity, given their need for midfield reinforcements.

ROUND-UP

Liverpool may try to hijack Chelsea 's move for RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, claims The Sun. The Reds sent scouts to watch the French forward against Celtic in the Champions League in midweek but fear Chelsea are well down the line with Nkunku, and they have missed the boat.

– Talks between Everton and Chelsea target Anthony Gordon on a contract extension have stalled, according to The Sun. Gordon reportedly wants approximately £100,000 per week.

Manchester United have reached out to Lautaro Martinez's agent about the Inter forward's availability, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. Martinez is contracted until 2026, while Barcelona are also interested.

United have joined Chelsea and Manchester City in having an active interest in Milan's Portuguese attacker Rafael Leao, claims The Mirror. United sent scouts to watch him against Chelsea in the Champions League.

Chelsea are interested in Napoli's Slovakia international Stanislav Lobotka, reports Calciomercato. Napoli and the midfielder are close to sealing a new deal.

– Newcastle United have commenced discussions with the agent of Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, reports Torcedores. Barcelona are also interested in the Brazilian, who has a release clause of £34.6million (€40m).

St. George’s College produced a spirited display to secure a 4-2 win over North Street rivals and defending champions Kingston College in their Group A fixture in the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup at Stadium East on Saturday. It was KC's first loss of the season.

St. George’s took the lead through a header from striker Joshua Jackson in the 14th minute and doubled their advantage through Zabir Taylor in the 44th minute. Shortly after the start of the second half, Kingston College would find themselves level after quick goals from Teyshawn Mattis in the 47th and Nashordo Gibbs in the 49th minute. Brian Burkett then got a double, capitalizing on a defensive mistake in the 72nd minute before scoring again in the 91st, to secure all three points for St. George’s.

Both have already advanced to the next round and are now level on 21 points from eight games, with KC holding a slight lead on goal difference. Waterford are third in the group on 12 points after a 0-0 draw with Ardenne at home while Calabar beat Meadowbrook 5-1 at home to move a point behind Waterford in fourth.

In Group B, St. Catherine High beat Cedar Grove 3-0 at the Spanish Town Prison Oval to move to 19 points from eight games and secure their spot in the next round alongside leaders Jamaica College. St. Mary’s College beat Holy Trinity 4-2 at home in Saturday’s other group game.

Haile Selassie secured their progression from Group C with a 3-0 home win over Bridgeport. They now have 20 points, three behind leaders Charlie Smith, from nine games.

Mona High, who have also already progressed to the next round, now have nine wins from nine games in Group E after a 3-2 home win over Papine.   

Excelsior will advance from Group F but will have to wait to see whether they will advance as group winners after playing out a 2-2 draw with Jose Marti at home to move to 21 points from their nine outings. They will be joined in the next round by Campion College who beat Kingston Technical 1-0 at home to move to 19 points, seven more than Jose Marti in third, from nine games.

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak could not remember what happened and will be kept under observation after being "slightly concussed" in Saturday's 1-0 LaLiga win over Athletic Bilbao.

Oblak was taken off in the 69th minute as part of a triple substitution due to an apparent shoulder issue, with his replacement Ivo Grbic making some key late saves at San Mames.

Atletico confirmed after the game that the Slovakian goalkeeper had been substituted "because he was slightly concussed, having also suffered direct trauma to his right shoulder".

Atleti head coach Diego Simeone added: "Jan didn't remember much of what had happened. I haven't talked to him, but the doctor told me that he didn't remember."

The club said Oblak underwent a neurological examination after the game without any worrying symptoms, but will be kept under observation by medical staff.

Oblak attempted to play on after initially appearing to suffer a shoulder injury before succumbing in the 69th minute.

The shot-stopper has started eight of Atletico's nine league games this term, having suffered a thigh issue in early September.

New York Red Bulls blew a lead to be bundled out of the MLS playoffs by first-time participants Cincinnati 2-1 with Brandon Vasquez netting an 86th-minute winner on Saturday.

Lewis Morgan, who scored 14 goals in the regular season, had put the Red Bulls ahead with a rifled strike from outside the box in the 48th minute at Red Bull Arena.

But Cincinnati replied with two goals in the final 15 minutes to secure their spot in the Conference Semifinals where they will face top seed Philadelphia Union. Fourth-year franchise Cincy had finished last in the Eastern Conference during its previous three campaigns.

Cincy thought they had an equalizer in the 60th minute when the Red Bulls failed to clear a long throw and Junior Moreno's strike was deflected in, but that was by an offside Jeff Cameron.

But the visitors found an avenue back when Red Bulls defender Andres Reyes clumsily brought down Alvaro Barreal, with Luciano Acosta stepping up to send Carlos Coronel the wrong way with the 74th-minute penalty.

New York were stunned when Cincy took the lead with less than five minutes of regulation time left as Vasquez sidefooted home substitute Sergio Santos' left-flank pass.

Cincy goalkeeper Roman Celentano denied Aaron Long's 88th-minute header, while Red Bulls defender Sean Nealis headed over in stoppage time.

LA Galaxy moved into the Conference Semifinals where they will face LAFC after a 1-0 home victory over Nashville at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The hosts thought they had gone ahead in the 50th minute when they raced forward in a four-on-two situation with Riqui Puig laying off for Javier Hernandez to fire home but the goal was disallowed on review after a Ronald Araujo foul in the build-up.

Pink-haired Araujo, who hit the post with a wayward 60th-minute cross, made amends when he headed in Samuel Grandsir's cross from the byline on the right side.

Galaxy could have added another but Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis made saves from Riqui Puig and Kevin Cabral late.

Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn has pledged the club "will find a solution" amid continuing criticism of the Bundesliga champions' commercial tie-up with Qatar Airways.

This is reportedly the final season in Bayern's five-year deal with the Qatari state-owned business, which serves as the German club's official airline partner.

Many Bayern club members have called for an end to the relationship, citing concerns over human rights standards in the country that will host the upcoming World Cup.

Those views were raised at last year's annual general meeting, and the subject was also prominent at the 2022 Bayern AGM on Saturday, but Kahn said there would be no talks held with the sponsor until after the Qatar 2022 finals.

Bayern staged a Qatar-specific roundtable event at the Allianz Arena in July that featured contributions from Kahn and Bayern president Herbert Hainer, plus others including World Cup committee chief Hassan Al-Thawadi and Qatar's ambassador in Berlin, Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Thani.

Updating members on Saturday, Kahn said: "Some fans – and I respect that – are very critical of the cooperation with Qatar Airways. That's why we have met with committed members several times since the AGM and exchanged views.

"Next meetings have already been arranged. We remain in dialogue. And that is very important to me."

Quoted on Bayern's website, Kahn added: "We will continue to discuss the subject intensively with our partner Qatar Airways after the World Cup. We will weigh everything up and we will find a solution for FC Bayern."

Diego Simeone was delighted to see Atletico Madrid's trademark resilience come to the fore in a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao, declaring 'the team's work continues to excite me'.

Antoine Griezmann's second-half goal – his 100th strike for Atletico in LaLiga – ensured Los Colchoneros leapfrogged Athletic into third place in the early season standings on Saturday.

Discounting Alvaro Morata's disallowed opener, Atletico failed to manage a single attempt prior to Griezmann's 47th-minute goal, and they recorded just three shots throughout the game – their lowest tally of the league season.

Atletico came under pressure late on and were indebted to substitute goalkeeper Ivo Grbic for making a flying save from Inigo Martinez's header, but Simeone always felt they were in control.

"It was seen what we came to try to do. We were undoubtedly facing one of the best teams in LaLiga and I think we were able to take the game to where we felt better," Simeone said.

"The most difficult thing in the game is to control the game, and that doesn't mean only with the ball, but also the positional game. 

 

"In the second half, the goal came with a very nice play and great definition. Today we had the forcefulness and it generates optimism for the rest of the match. 

"The team's work continues to excite me, it's been 11 years here."

Atletico have now won three successive league games for the first time since April, and trail Barcelona and Real Madrid by just three points ahead of the duo's Clasico meeting on Sunday.

Simeone has faced criticism for a perceived lack of progression this season, but he believes his team are on track, adding: "I think we're gaining mettle in a championship with a large number of games. 

"It's hard to please all the boys, they all want to play, they have the World Cup close and it's hard when they don't see themselves in the starting 11. 

"We are going to count on everyone, it is impossible to play every three days with the same ones. Hopefully they feel proud of what they do, because winning in this field is not easy."

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