Barcelona, July 4
Álvaro Morata scored twice to lead Atlético Madrid to a 3-0 win over Mallorca and extend its strong finish to the Spanish league.
Diego Simeone’s team has long been out of the title race being disputed by leader Real Madrid and second-placed Barcelona, which they trail by eight points.
But Atlético is one of the hottest teams as La Liga ticks down before it shifts focus to the Champions League final eight to be played in Portugal next month.
In March when the league was halted, Atlético was struggling to secure a Champions League berth for next season. It is now well on course to finishing third.
Atlético has remained undefeated in seven matches since the Spanish league resumed following a three-month stoppage for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were in a complicated situation before the stoppage, but we have been playing well since we got back to playing and have been playing with a great attitude,” Morata said.
Simeone’s side dominated the relegation-threatened Mallorca from kickoff.
Morata earned a penalty when he was pulled down by Aleksandar Sedlar in the area.
Goalkeeper Manuel Reina blocked his strike, but a video review helped the referee order a redo of the spot kick after Sedlar entered the area too early.
Morata stepped back up and on a second try rifled the ball into the top corner in the 29th minute.
“Missing and then getting back up and trying again is part of football,” Morata said about the penalty.
The former Chelsea and Real Madrid striker was back on the scoreboard in first-half injury time when Jorge “Koke” Resurrección stole the ball and played Marcos Llorente clear to reach the end line, where he found Morata at the far post to tap home.
The goals were Morata’s 10th and 11th of the season in league play.
Mallorca could not muster a comeback and Renan Lodi hit the crossbar for Atlético before Koke scored in the 79th. His shot deflected off a defender to give Reina no chance to save.
Mallorca was left five points from safety with four games left. AP