Atletico Madrid thrashed Eibar 5-0 to move three points clear at the top of La Liga on Sunday, with champions Real Madrid stumbling to a 0-0 draw at Getafe.
In spite of missing top goalscorer Luis Suarez and record signing Joao Felix, Atletico Madrid dealt bottom-of-the-table Eibar a heavy drubbing.
Angel Correa and Marcos Llorente struck braces either side of Yannick Carrasco’s goal, to put Atletico on 70 points from 31 games.
“The important thing is to be able to win, it keeps you calm for the week ahead,” said Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone.
“The league season has a very nice run-in and I hope that we can keep growing so it doesn’t become monotonous, and Real Madrid and FC Barcelona always win.”
Simeone’s side are starting to recover after a bad run of form that saw Real Madrid and Barca cut down their large lead at the top to virtually nothing.
However Real Madrid, hampered themselves by significant injury and coronavirus problems, with Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Eden Hazard and others on the sidelines, struggled at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made several excellent saves to earn his clean sheet.
In attack, they created little after Mariano rounded David Soria and found the net but the goal was ruled out for offside.
At the other end, Jaime Mata hit the post for the hosts and Mauro Arambarri came close with a low effort.
Soria kept out Vinicius Junior’s header from eight yards towards the end of the first half, with Getafe going on to dominate after the break.
Courtois was forced into a brilliant save from Enes Unal and another fine stop to deny Nemanja Maksimovic.
Real Madrid, who drew with Liverpool in midweek to reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, lacked energy and stamina in the final stages and could not score a late victory.
“I think it’s always hard to play here, we knew what we were in for. But it is what it is,” said Real Madrid defender Marcelo, recently back in the team after a long spell as a reserve.
“I don’t think we lost two points but instead gained a point because it’s tough here.
“I think there’s no time to rest, but that’s what we have to do, we have to continue and give everything.
“Football is like this right now. I don’t see myself as a secondary player, I’m one of the captains, I have to work every day and who has to play, plays.”
Zinedine Zidane’s side are on 67 points from 31 games, two ahead of FC Barcelona.
The former champions won the Copa del Rey on Saturday against Athletic Bilbao and saw their league clash with Granada postponed as a result.
Fourth-placed Sevilla came from behind to beat Real Sociedad, who are seventh, 2-1, while a vibrant Villarreal, who are fifth, thrashed Levante 5-1.
Rodrigo Battaglia’s late goal earned Alaves a crucial 1-0 win over Huesca at the bottom of the table.
The teams are 16th and 17th respectively, level on 27 points with 18th-placed Real Valladolid.
Elsewhere Osasuna earned a 2-0 win over 19th-placed Elche. (dpa/NAN)