Atletico Madrid boosted their hopes of a top-four finish in LaLiga, as Renan Lodi netted twice in a hard-fought 2-0 home win over Celta Vigo.
Towards the end of a turgid first period, Lodi fired a deflected effort past Matias Diruto to give Diego Simeone’s team the lead, then volleyed in a second on the hour, with Geoffrey Kondogbia providing assists for both goals.
Simeone’s solid rearguard stood firm as Atletico closed out the win in the latter stages, piling the pressure on top-four rivals Barcelona, who can move level with the Spanish champions by beating Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
After Atletico started slowly, Reinildo was forced into a brilliant block by Franco Cervi after 15 minutes.
Correa failed to meet Marcos Llorente’s inviting cut-back at the other end, but Atletico did break the deadlock on 35 minutes.
Lodi was the scorer, beating Hugo Mallo before firing a low shot past Diruto, who looked to have been wrong-footed by a touch from the Celta skipper.
First goal of the season for @renan_lodi in #LaLigaSantander! #AtletiCelta pic.twitter.com/tuP9fUaXYP
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) February 26, 2022
Celta’s Javi Galan went close with a spectacular effort, but Atletico went into the break a goal to the good, after a half in which chances were at a premium.
The visitors went on the front foot after the break, with Iago Aspas almost finding the net directly from a corner, before Lodi doubled his tally in the match, and for the entire season, with a superb second.
Brazilian Lodi latched onto Kondogbia’s lofted ball, finishing on the run to double the lead, before being substituted to a standing ovation shortly thereafter.
Substitutes Yannick Carrasco and Rodrigo de Paul then forced Diruto into strong saves, while fellow replacement Antoine Griezmann also went close twice from long rage as Atletico held on to their advantage comfortably.
What does it mean? Atletico overcome home wobbles
The home side have encountered a few problems at Wanda Metropolitano recently, losing two of their last five LaLiga matches there, as many as they had lost in their previous 52 home games in the competition (37 wins, 13 draws, and 12 losses).
But Lodi’s goals earned the spoils for Simone’s men, and their win sees them leapfrog Barcelona into LaLiga’s top four, ahead of Xavi’s team hosting Athletic at Camp Nou.
Atletico retain hold over Celta
Following their victory, Atletico Madrid have not lost any of their last 10 LaLiga home games against Celta Vigo, winning seven and drawing three, with each of those clashes coming under Simeone’s management.
In securing the win, the hosts also ended Celta’s five-match unbeaten run in LaLiga.
Simeone sees off another compatriot
In defeating Eduardo Coudet’s team, Atletico boss Simeone maintained his fantastic record against fellow Argentine managers.
He has now lost just one of his last 10 meetings with fellow Argentine coaches in LaLiga, winning seven and drawing two of those games, with the only reverse being a 3-1 loss to Santiago Solari’s Real Madrid in 2019.
Atletico Madrid will face a crucial trip to fellow Champions League contenders Real Betis on Sunday March 6 in LaLiga, while Celta Vigo’s next outing sees them host Mallorca on the same day.
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