Mario Suarez, centre, celebrates scoring one of Atletico Madrid's goals in a 2-0 win over Espanyol in La Liga on Sunday in Madrid. Juan Medina / Reuters / October 19, 2014
Mario Suarez, centre, celebrates scoring one of Atletico Madrid's goals in a 2-0 win over Espanyol in La Liga on Sunday in Madrid. Juan Medina / Reuters / October 19, 2014

‘Team played the way they had to’: Diego Simeone pleased as Atletico Madrid top Espanyol

Atletico Madrid moved back to within five points of La Liga leaders Barcelona with a 2-0 win over Espanyol on Sunday thanks to goals from Tiago and Mario Suarez.

Tiago opened the scoring with a wonderful looping header into the far corner from Gabi’s cross two minutes before half-time to settle the hosts’ nerves.

The Portuguese midfielder then limped off early in the second half, making him a doubt for Atletico’s Champions League game against Malmo in midweek.

However, his replacement Suarez had the easy task of tapping home the second from Jose Gimenez’s header 20 minutes from time.

Victory takes Atletico back into the top four, but Sevilla can reclaim fourth spot with a win over Elche later on Sunday, while Valencia can also close the gap on Barca to two points when they travel to Deportivo la Coruna.

“The team played the way they had to,” said Atletico manager Diego Simeone.

“We played with a good tempo and with patience until the first goal arrived. Then, in the second half, we controlled the game.”

Simeone’s men had been beaten by an early three-goal blitz at Valencia last time out and they set out to make amends early on as Kiko Casilla denied Arda Turan from point-blank range before the Turkish midfielder had a goal ruled out for offside.

Casilla also turned behind a fierce drive from Koke, but Atletico were thankful to their own keeper Miguel Moya moments later as he smothered Lucas Vazquez’s effort at the back post.

The home side continued to enjoy the majority of the play, though, and made the breakthrough just before half-time when Gabi’s cross to the far post was looped back across goal and over the helpless Casilla from Tiago.

Sergio Garcia could have punished some slack defending by Atletico with the last kick of the half as he blasted over from a narrow angle.

And the champions were dealt a blow at the start of the second period as Tiago hobbled off to be replaced by Suarez.

Espanyol had claims for a penalty waved away 25 minutes from time when Christian Stuani tumbled under pressure from Gimenez in the box, but within 60 seconds it was Casilla who was forced into action once more as he repelled Mario Mandzukic’s low drive.

Atletico made the game safe on 70 minutes as Espanyol struggled to defend a corner and Gimenez’s header across goal was tapped home by Suarez for his first goal in two years.

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