Vitolo came off the bench showing Atletico Madrid the way to goal, his winner improving the probability of a top-four LaLiga finish.
Atletico Madrid had substitute Vitolo to thank as they boosted their prospects of Champions League football next season with a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid at the Wanda Metropolitano.
A clutch of chances had been spurned by the full time Vitolo came off the bench to replace Marcos Llorente with 17 minutes remaining, with Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata going close.
When the breakthrough came in the 81st minute it absolutely was dramatic, Vitolo heading at goal following a corner from the left reached him at the far post.
Valladolid defender Kiko Olivas felt he’d nodded it off the line after diving spectacularly to reach the ball, but replays showed it was six inches over and Atletico moved straight back up to third.
90’+ [ 1-0 ] That’ll do
We earn a key within our return to the Wanda @Metropolitano
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) June 20, 2020
Waldo Rubio almost gave Valladolid a phenomenal start, driving in to space and lashing a 25-yard strike that Jan Oblak had to throw himself to his directly to palm within the crossbar.
At another end, Morata headed wastefully off target from Hector Herrera’s exemplary cross before an off-balance Joao Felix sliced high and wide.
Joao Felix went close again, this time with the ball fully under his get a handle on, as that he darted forwards and sent a shot just wide of the left post.
Valladolid’s Matheus Fernandes went similarly close on the half-hour mark, as Atletico’s threat briefly flatlined.
Morata made means for Diego Costa in the 64th minute and the brand new arrival quickly had the ball in the net, but he had strayed offside.
Thomas Partey almost broke the deadlock with a 35-yard howitzer that Jose Antonio Caro did well to turn away for a large part in the 80th minute.
From that set-piece Atletico had their moment through Vitolo. Olivas was confident he’d reached the ball with time, but a VAR always check told another story.
What does it mean? Simeone’s side scrape through
This was by no means a vintage Atletico performance, but they never gave up the pursuit of an absolute goal. Thomas’ thumping shot almost provided a match-winner to cherish, but it helped to bring about the end result Diego Simeone’s men were seeking. Valladolid, in lower mid-table but surely nearly safe, gave a decent account of themselves.
Vitolo makes his mark
Vitolo was in the best place at the right time, keeping his composure as the ball came by way of a thicket of players. With Caro stranded, it seemed he just had hitting the target, but his heart would have held it’s place in his mouth as Olivas spotted the risk and nearly pulled off the spectacular.
4 – @VitoloMachin has scored four goals in LaLiga at @atletienglish , three of them in 2010. These goals have been worth six points. Key. pic.twitter.com/isCVrdfEaW
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 20, 2020
Caro was barely clinging on
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The longer this match went on, a lot more likely it seemed that Caro’s good fortune would run out. He was left embarrassed by the goal, coming off his line and failing to punch away the corner where the winner arrived.
Atletico go to Levante on Tuesday, when Valladolid have home advantage against high-flying Getafe.