The Rojiblancos win again against guests in nine

Goals from Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata gave Atletico Madrid a much-needed victory in La Liga, in a 2-0 win against Elche on Thursday.

There were three red cards in the contest, with Elche captain Gonzalo Verdu sent off late in the first half before Mario Hermoso was sent off for the hosts early in the second.

Joao Felix and Morata then scored to seal the win, with substitute Domingos Quina also seen red for the visitors in stoppage time as the Rojiblancos fell to within three points at the Metropolitano.

After three games without a win before the mid-season break for the World Cup, Diego Simeone’s side will be happy to win again.

Atletico’s first-half chances were few and far between, and it was significant that even Verdu’s VAR-assisted dismissal for an off-the-ball foul on Morata just before the break did little to make up for them.

Even their men’s lead was temporary, with Hermoso giving his marching orders after two consecutive bookings, the second for an ill-advised foul on Helibelton Palacios after the break.

But Joao Felix’s close-range header, converted into the net by Antoine Griezmann’s short cross, gave the home side a new lease of life and allowed them to play with greater freedom.

That translated into a second goal, this time after Morata dribbled exquisitely from the right wing to turn the defense upside down in the 74th minute, and effectively silenced the game with a deflected shot that clipped across Edgar Badia and inside.

Elche’s efforts to respond saw their discipline slip once again, with substitute Quina sent off for a quick second booking, the second following a clumsy foul on Morata, as Atletico edged closer to victory.

What does it mean? Atletico Madrid win again

A Copa del Rey triumph against Arenteiro last week technically ensured a victorious return from the mid-season break for Simeone’s side, but three La Liga points are more than a token gesture.

The Argentinian coach may be disappointed that his side didn’t make things easier for themselves, but he will still be happy to see a victory.

Griezmann remains a key support player

After a strong World Cup campaign that saw him fail just short of becoming double champions with France, Griezmann was the crucial link for his side today.

His two assists bring him to five for the season in La Liga, more than any of his Atletico teammates.

Verdu sees double red

There can be few complaints that the Elche captain should have seen punishment for his professional foul on Morata, even if the red card will undoubtedly infuriate him.

It’s his second dismissal of the season, making him the club’s third man to achieve the LaLiga feat this century, following Damian Suárez and Cristian Sapuranu, both in 2013-14.

What’s next?

Both sides are preparing for the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey, with Elche taking on AD Ceuta and Atletico Madrid taking on Real Oviedo.

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