A second half goal from Atletico Madrid’s Turkish midfielder Arda Turan saw the men from the capital secure a 1-0 victory away at Granada, despite going down to 10 men.
Mario Suarez got his marching orders after a second yellow card for a deliberate handball on 72 minutes - meaning Diego Simeone’s squad had to hold on in the final stages for their 10th league win of the season.
The result takes them to within three points of leaders Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
Turan got the crucial goal just after the hour mark, finishing coolly from a tight angle on the left after a great cross from the classy Juanfran who was found by Brazilian substitute Diego Costa on the right.
Indeed it was Costa who changed the game when he was brought on for the second half to aid team-mate Falcao who had been struggling to make a mark in the opening period.
An evenly matched first half had ended goalless, with some wayward finishing from the attackers on both sides. Granada should have been 1-0 up inside 10 minutes after Youssef El Arabi got free in the box from a set piece and headed wide when it looked easier to score.
An excellent counter-attack by the hosts in the 35th minute saw them hit the post when it almost looked like they had too many players advancing forward to make a clear chance.
Yacine Brahimi eventually let rip with a fierce shot that struck the woodwork with Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois stranded and his team-mate Turan getting a vital touch on the strike to prevent a sure goal.
But Courtois was straight back in goal and produced a brilliant smothering save on the half-hour mark to keep out Youssef El Arabi inside the six-yard box as the Moroccan lurked dangerously.
Atletico had good first-half chances themselves too, with Falcao looking to find the net after a three-match goal ‘drought’.
On 12 minutes ‘El Tigre’ had a chance at goal, but the Colombian over hit a pass instead of turning and shooting when he was unmarked in the box.
But Falcao hardly saw the ball again until just before half time when he tried an audacious effort from 40 yards out which dropped just over Granada goalkeeper Tono's crossbar.
After the break Falcao and his fellow South American Costa were able to stretch the game and the visitors were deserved scorers as Turan hit the back of the net, 15 minutes into the second period.
Simeone’s men worked hard to preserve the lead after Suarez was sent off, preserving a record of winning every game in which they have taken the lead this season – a total of 14 victories in 18 matches in all competitions thus far this term.
Granada ended the match still sitting 17th in the table, just one point above the relegation zone, having lost five of their last six games.
Regardless of the result against Sevilla next week, Atletico will go into their derby in two weeks time at Real Madrid above their city rivals. It will be the first time they approach a game ahead of their neighbours in the standings since the 1998-99 season.
- Sports & Recreation
- Arda Turan
- Atletico Madrid