MADRID (AP) — After Jan Oblak swatted the ball away with a superb penalty save in the 86th minute, Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone celebrated on the sideline as if his team had just scored a goal.
His players did, too, rushing to embrace the man who secured Atlético a win that could be decisive in the fight for the Spanish league title.
Luis Suárez had earlier scored his 500th career goal with club and country to help give Atlético a hard-fought 1-0 home win against relegation-threatened Alavés on Sunday.
The victory, Atlético’s third in the last seven league games, left the leaders four points ahead of Barcelona, which stayed close by routing fifth-place Real Sociedad 6-1. Lionel Messi and American defender Sergiño Dest scored two goals each.
Atlético was coming off elimination against Chelsea in the round of 16 of the Champions League and had been held 0-0 at Getafe in its previous Spanish league match.
Aláves has lost five of its last six league games. It sits second-to-last in the 20-team standings with 23 points, two from safety.
Simeone’s team held a comfortable league lead until recently but had been gradually losing ground as Barcelona and Madrid charged to the top.
BARCELONA STAYS CLOSE
Barcelona easily beat Sociedad for its fifth consecutive league win — and ninth straight away from home
Griezmann opened the scoring in the 37th before Dest netted in the 43rd and 53rd minutes for his first league goals with the Catalan club. The American right back had already scored in a Champions League game in his first season with the Spanish powerhouse.
Messi netted his league-leading 22nd and 23rd goals from inside the area in the 56th and 89th.