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A rare goal from Thomas Lemar helped Atlético de Madrid to a close 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano as Diego Simeone’s team rose to the top of LaLiga.
Simeone named Joao Félix, Koke and Marcos Llorente among substitutes with key games against Salzburg and Real Madrid to come next week, and Atleti struggled to get going as a result.
Llorente entered at halftime and Joao Félix and Koke followed ahead of time, although Lemar had made the breakthrough moments earlier with his first club goal since April 2019.
The athletes took control from that point and added a second via route one from substitute Llorente as the leaders posted seven straight league wins to overtake Real Sociedad.
Jordi Masip fired a long-range shot from Ángel Correa, but Luis Suárez was unable to take advantage of the four minutes after his return, poorly controlling the ball as he tried to circle the goalkeeper.
The visitors entered the match undefeated in three and looked more threatening in the first half, with Jan Oblak avoiding the efforts of Oscar Plano and Marcos de Sousa.
Simeone’s men received another scare four minutes into the second half when De Sousa’s volley shot to the back post was blocked by Kieran Trippier in front of goal.
But Atlético grew in the game, and moments after Correa fired wide around the corner, Lemar converted a Trippier cross from a tight angle after Suarez missed him down the stretch.
That ended a 45-game streak in all competitions without a goal for the France international and Atleti had a second 16 minutes later: Trippier made a pass from Oblak for Llorente to run past Masip.