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La Liga: Saul’s late goal against Villarreal sends Atletico Madrid to fourth

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VILLARREAL: Saul Niguez scores in the 87th minute to secure a win for Atletico Madrid against Villarreal in their La Liga 2023-24 fixture at Estadio de la Cerámica on Monday.

The 2-1 victory pushed Atletico Madrid up to fourth place in the La Liga standings, now trailing third-placed Girona by only seven points.

The visitors opened the scoring early on with Axel Witsel finding Rodrigo Riquelme’s cross following a corner and headed the ball to the top right corner of the net.

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However, Villarreal levelled five minutes into the second half as Alexander Sorloth got his name on the scoring sheet.

He found Gerard Moreno in the 49th minute and hit the equalizer from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.

The entertaining clash was heading towards a stalemate when Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone substituted Pablo Barrios with Saul Niguez in the 83rd minute.

Saul did not take too long and scored the winner in less than five minutes after coming off the bench courtesy of an assist by Cesar Azpilicueta.

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“(Saul) entered the game well and scored a great goal,” Simeone said after the match. “I’ve put him on a bunch of times because I believe in him and I hope he can give us a lot.”

Simeone said his team still needed to improve to lock down Champions League qualification for next season.

“Athletic are having a very good season, Girona aren’t giving up, and we have to improve,” said the coach. “Pace of play and intensity decide things and we have to improve in that regard.”

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