Atletico Madrid’s Alvaro Morata netted a second-half header to secure a 1-0 win at lowly Granada despite his side’s uninspiring performance on Monday (Jan 22), moving them up to fourth place in LaLiga.
With their first LaLiga away win since October following four consecutive losses on the road, Diego Simeone’s side climbed to 41 points and are now three behind third-placed Barcelona after 20 games.
Leaders Girona are top with 52 points, one ahead of second-placed Real Madrid, but the surprise package of the season have played one more game than all of their main rivals.
After a low key first half Atletico were more aggressive after the interval against LaLiga’s second-bottom side and broke the deadlock in the 55th minute when Antoine Griezmann lifted a cross for Morata to head past goalkeeper Augusto Batalla.
The referee ruled the effort out for offside but a VAR check showed Morata was marginally onside and the goal was given.
Five minutes later midfielder Saul Niguez scored a similar goal that was also disallowed but this time the VAR stuck with the referee’s decision although it was a very close call.
A day after VAR controversy made headlines following three debatable decisions in Real Madrid’s 3-2 comeback win over bottom side Almeria, refereeing was again under the spotlight.
Granada’s players were fuming after what seemed like a clear Jose Maria Gimenez handball inside the area was not given as a penalty by the referee with the decision not overturned by VAR.
“The handball and Saul’s goal are really close calls… In the end there are many complex plays in a football match,” Simeone told Movistar Plus.
“I’ve always believed and I want to believe that the VAR is important because it helps the game. There are times when it doesn’t happen but it does help most of the times…”
Griezmann hit the post in the 88th minute and substitute Angel Correa missed a sitter from close-range off the rebound that should have given Atletico a more comfortable win.