Diego Simeone hopes Luis Suarez can use his goalscoring "gift" when Atletico Madrid face Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Suarez is enjoying a fine season with Atletico, scoring 16 goals in 24 games in all competitions since joining from Barcelona.

However, he is without a goal or assist in four Champions League games this season. He has scored in each of his previous seven campaigns in the competition.

Atletico coach Simeone said the Uruguayan provided his team with a huge boost.

"For all competitions, not only the Champions League, Luis' presence generates hierarchy, generates confidence in our team and obviously a lot of attention in rivals because history joins a footballer that has a strong gift regarding his relationship with the goal," he told a news conference on Monday.

"So, I hope tomorrow we can play a good match as a team. And I insist about Chelsea, it is a great team and the new manager, who is very good, is making Chelsea play even better."

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the first leg of the last-16 tie will be played at the National Arena in Bucharest.

Simeone is wary of Chelsea, who are unbeaten in their seven games since Thomas Tuchel took over in January.

"We respect all opinions and we listen to everyone, but tomorrow we are facing a great team and the tie is very even," he said.

"We have been at the club for a long time and all of you know how we work – game by game and do our job."

Atletico Madrid striker Luis Suarez has lifted the lid on his acrimonious exit from Barcelona and revealed he was told he was past his best.

Suarez has scored 16 goals in 20 league appearances this season, firing Diego Simeone's side to the top of LaLiga, and is the competition's joint top goalscorer alongside former Barca team-mate Lionel Messi.

After the 34-year-old was allowed to join the Catalans' title rivals on a cut-price deal, Atleti have opened up an eight-point advantage over fourth-placed Barca, and hold a three-point lead over Real Madrid, with a game in hand.

The Uruguayan netted 198 goals in six seasons at Camp Nou but, after new coach Ronald Koeman was hired, Suarez revealed he was told he was no longer up to their standards.

"What really bothered me was that they told me that I was old and that I could no longer play at the top level, be up to a great team. That's what displeased me," Suarez told France Football.

Although Suarez found it difficult to move away from the close bonds and friendships he and his family had formed in Barcelona, the two-time European Golden Shoe winner had no intention of staying where he was not wanted.

"On the one hand, this change was welcome because, after everything I had experienced at Barca, and given the way it went, I wanted to change," added Suarez.

"The hardest part is when you have a family that for six years has been used to living in the same place. 

"Having to explain to my children that we are going to change when they have their friends and their habits in Barcelona, that was the most difficult. 

"All the more so during a pandemic, with the current difficulties, in particular to socialise with people here, in Madrid. 

"This complicates things, it's impossible to do extra-curricular activities with the children, we have to stay at home. They miss their friends, as they miss my wife's family in Barcelona. 

"But you also have to see the positive side: I was not going to be happy where people no longer wanted me. Now my family feels that I am happy and that is the main thing."

Suarez is set to feature for Atleti against Premier League club Chelsea in their Champions League last 16 first leg at the National Arena in Bucharest, Romania, on Tuesday.

With Lionel Messi's future far from certain at the end of the season, his former team-mate Neymar has apparently reached out to the Barcelona captain about a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Brazilian superstar Neymar played alongside the six-time Ballon d'Or winner for four LaLiga seasons between 2013 and 2017, before sealing a world-record transfer to Ligue 1 giants

It is understood Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are ready to make a play to bring Messi to the Premier League, but Mauricio Pochettino's PSG appear to be taking the direct approach.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR PUTS IN A CALL TO MESSI

Lionel Messi's contract at his boyhood club expires in the off-season, less than a year after the Barcelona superstar sensationally tried to leave Camp Nou but found his exit plans blocked.

According to L'Equipe, Neymar – who is set to miss the Champions League trip to the Barcelona on Tuesday – has put in a call to convince Messi to join Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi will lead out Barca in the first leg of the last-16 tie, having stated he will wait until the end of the current campaign before making a decision on where he will play in 2021-2022.

ROUND-UP

- PSG star Kylian Mbappe has decided to stay put this off-season but is not planning on extending his current contract, which expires in 2022, claims ESPN.

Liverpool are looking for defensive reinforcements and they are monitoring Aston Villa's England Under-21 international Ezri Konsa, according to The Athletic.

- Bayern Munich's free-agent defender David Alaba has already agreed to join Real Madrid at season's end, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Diego Simeone praised the development of Marcos Llorente after the midfielder helped Atletico Madrid secure a 2-1 victory over Granada. 

Atleti extended their lead at the top of LaLiga to eight points thanks to Angel Correa's deflected winner on Saturday. 

Llorente provided the assist for Correa having opened the scoring himself with a neat finish in the 63rd minute, taking his tally of league goals for the season to seven. 

The 26-year-old – signed primarily to play as a defensive midfielder in 2019 from rivals Real Madrid – scored his first goal for Atleti in a 2-2 draw with Valencia on February 14 last year. 

He has now netted 13 times in all competitions in total for the club, while his tally of 10 league goals since getting off the mark puts him behind only Luis Suarez (16) for Simeone's squad. 

Llorente has averaged a goal every 237 minutes in LaLiga over the last 12 months, as well as providing 10 assists and creating 35 chances. Only Koke, who moved level with Tomas Renones for second place on the list for appearances in all competitions for Atletico, has created more (41).

With his opener against Granada, Llorente became the midfielder in LaLiga with the most direct goal involvements so far this season, so it was hardly surprising when Simeone spoke glowingly of the Spain international's desire to transform himself into an all-round attacking threat. 

"As coaches, titles are wonderful, because they fill you with excitement and glory," Simeone told a news conference. 

"But when you work with a footballer and see his growth reflected, you feel more joy and more enthusiasm to continue advancing in this profession.  

"When we see a footballer with the ability to do different things than what he had been doing in his career, we jump into it. It happened to us with Griezmann, with Saul, with Juanfran. 

"Why is it happening? I would like to look for the images of Marcos training when he was not even playing, when in practice he scored a lot of goals, we joked that he was going to have to play higher [up the pitch]. 

"We put him up front and now I think in the middle is where feels more at ease." 

While Llorente delivered the goods on Saturday, LaLiga's leading scorer Suarez had an off day in front of goal, landing only one of his four attempts on target, though he was unfortunate to hit the crossbar in the second half. 

"We always ask all the boys who have played as strikers in our team for collaboration and effort for the team," Simeone said. 

"Luis, beyond what he generates with his goals, has a lot of intelligence. He knows where to apply pressure, where to bother the rival, generate doubts and we need everyone."

Diego Simeone insists there are plenty of positives to take from Monday's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo despite the disappointment of conceding an 89th-minute equaliser. 

Los Rojiblancos looked set to restore their 10-point lead over Barcelona and Real Madrid at LaLiga's summit after a Luis Suarez brace overturned Santi Mina's opener for Celta. 

They were denied a ninth consecutive top-flight win, however, when substitute Facundo Ferreyra - making his debut after joining from Benfica on transfer deadline day - bundled home from close range late on. 

Despite that late blow, Atleti still have an eight-point lead at the top of the table and boast a game in hand on their rivals.

They are unbeaten in 22 home league games - their best run in the competition since a 22-match streak between September 2015 and October 2016 - while their tally of 51 points after 20 games is their best at this stage of the season since they last won the league in 2013-14.

Simeone refused to be too harsh on his side after Ferreyra's late leveller and felt there were plenty of plus points to take into next weekend's game at Granada.

"It is normal that during the season, with the number of games there are, things will happen like this," he told a news conference.

"Today, we continue on our way, match by match, and I am left with many positive things that were taken from negative things. 

"Some players came in, took their opportunity, and played very good games, such as [Renan] Lodi, [Geoffrey] Kondogbia and [Lucas] Torreira. Those are important things for the future.

"It was a difficult start for us. They played well. I think there were not many chances in the first half for anyone, but they did feel more comfortable with possession. 

"In the second half we improved with the change of system to have one more in the middle and take one from behind. Kondogbia and Torreira managed to press higher."

Suarez's latest double took his tally to 16 goals in his first 17 league games for Atleti, overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo as the fastest player to reach 16 goals for the same club in the competition in the 21st century.

Those goals have secured 12 points for Atleti this season - more than any other player in the league. 

Simeone knew exactly what he was getting when he signed Suarez from Barcelona ahead of the 2020-21 season and the Atleti boss says his side tries to play to the Uruguay international's strengths.

"It [Suarez's record] speaks for itself," he added. "He always scored goals, it's not just now that he does. 

"We try to enhance everything he brought and bring him closer to the area. Let's all hope we continue growing as a team."

Atletico Madrid were denied the opportunity to restore their 10-point lead at the LaLiga summit after Facundo Ferreyra's 89th-minute equaliser sealed an unlikely 2-2 draw for Celta Vigo on Monday. 

Wins for Real Madrid and Barcelona over the weekend put the pressure on Diego Simeone's men, who lost Thomas Lemar and Hector Herrera shortly before kick-off after positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed.

They started poorly at the Wanda Metropolitano and slipped behind to Santi Mina's third top-flight goal of the season, but Luis Suarez levelled matters in the 45th minute with a simple finish at the back post. 

The former Barcelona striker repeated the trick five minutes after the interval, but Los Rojiblancos were denied a ninth consecutive top-flight win when Ferreyra - a debutant from the bench - scrambled in from close range late on.

 

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi will retire wherever he wants amid doubts over his future, according to former team-mate Luis Suarez.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the current campaign and the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner appears likely to leave on a free transfer amid strong links to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League giants Manchester City.

The 33-year-old attacker had tried to exit Camp Nou prior to the start of 2020-21 before opting to remain with the embattled LaLiga powerhouse.

Suarez won four LaLiga titles and the Champions League among other honours during his time together with Messi before joining Atletico Madrid in the off-season and he hailed the superstar.

"This afternoon I spoke with him, he was very happy about yesterday's victory [over Granada]," Suarez told El Transistor.

"He is [playing] at a spectacular level, he is the best in the world.

"Messi will retire wherever he wants, he can decide whether it's at Barcelona, in Argentina or wherever."

Suarez has starred since leaving Barca after six years at Camp Nou, spearheading Atletico's title charge this season.

The 34-year-old has scored a LaLiga-high 14 goals to help Diego Simeone's Atletico sit 10 points clear atop the table, ahead of second-placed Barca with a game in hand.

Suarez averages the fewest minutes per goal (one goal every 85 minutes) among players to have scored at least two goals this season.

The Uruguay international reflected on his Barca exit following Ronald Koeman's arrival, adding: "When Barcelona told me that they did not count on me it was hard, I did not expect it.

"They were very difficult moments because of the manner [in which it happened]. Koeman called me and told me that I was not in his plans.

"When Barcelona made it official that they did not count on me, conversations began with Atleti, with Cholo [Simeone], with Miguel Angel...

"There was interest from many clubs, not just Juventus. I wanted to make the right decision, the best for me and my family."

Luis Suarez is hoping his goalscoring streak continues after netting a rare free-kick in Atletico Madrid's 4-2 win over Cadiz.

The Uruguay international found the left corner from a little over 25 yards in Sunday's clash at Estadio Ramon de Carranza and added another goal from the penalty spot.

His opener was just the second direct free-kick Suarez has scored since arriving in Spain from 35 attempts, the other coming for Barcelona against Real Betis in August 2016.

Suarez, who now has 14 goals in 16 league appearances since joining Atletico from Barca for a nominal fee in the close season, is glad his training-ground practice is paying off.

"Having been at Barcelona for a long time, where Leo [Messi] is, I didn't take them, but at Liverpool and with the national team I scored a few," he told Movistar.

"Now I'm taking my chances. Just the other day we practised with a few free-kicks at training.

"When the striker is in form you have to take advantage of the chances. I try to help the team however I can and enjoy the moment."

His latest brace helped Atletico to an eighth successive league win - their best run since a nine-match winning streak in their title-winning campaign seven seasons ago - as they moved 10 points clear at the top with a game in hand.

"It means the team is working well, with the mentality to achieve our aims and that's the way to go," Suarez said.

"They are important numbers, which put us up there. We were missing a few important players and those who came in today did it very well."

Alvaro Negredo cancelled out Suarez's sublime free-kick, but the former Barcelona man doubled his personal tally after Saul Niguez had restored Atletico's lead in the eventful match.

Negredo helped himself to a second to set up what looked like being a nervy finale, only for Koke to fire in a fourth goal for the leaders to make certain of a 15th win in 16 league games.

Despite Atletico's big points advantage on the chasing pack in their quest for an 11th league crown, head coach Diego Simeone is continuing to take it one game at a time.

"All games are an important step to reach the objectives," Simeone said. "It was a difficult, tough game, when we started to see the controlled game we knew we were going to suffer.

"Cadiz are stable, maintain a dynamic game and with the second goal they got fully into the game and made things complicated for us with crosses from the side.

"We care to continue in the way we are and seek to improve. We didn't have [Yannick] Carrasco and [Mario] Hermoso, who were very good for the team, and they all responded very well."

Up next for Atletico is a trip to Granada on February 8 before taking on Levante five days later.

Simeone, now up to fifth on the list of all-time wins for a LaLiga manager, added: "To follow this line we must go match by match, compete better in training sessions and increase competition.

"At the end of February the Champions League arrives, where we hope to be able to compete until the end and we will need everyone.

"I need my players in the best way for whatever comes next."

Luis Suarez scored a set-piece double as Atletico Madrid saw off Cadiz 4-2 to move 10 points clear at the LaLiga summit.

Real Madrid's shock 2-1 loss to Levante on Saturday provided Atleti with a chance to extend their lead at the top and they did exactly that with victory at Estadio Ramon de Carranza.

Diego Simeone's men had trailed in their last two outings, though Suarez opened the scoring with a sublime free-kick in Sunday's clash before Alvaro Negredo equalised.

Saul Niguez's flicked finish and Suarez's penalty gave Atleti some breathing space and, while Negredo's second of the day did make things interesting, Koke finished smartly late on to make certain of an eighth league win in a row.

Anthony Lozano glanced wide from a promising Cadiz opportunity and, less than three minutes later, Suarez sent a 28-yard free-kick up and over the wall and into the left corner to give Atleti the lead.

Cadiz were level almost instantly thanks to Negredo, who curled a fine finish beyond Jan Oblak after the ball had ricocheted into his path off Thomas Lemar.

The visitors had won only one of their last eight league games prior to Sunday and it did not take Saul long to restore Atleti's lead with a rather fortunate goal.

Lemar sent in a cross from the right and Saul stuck out a leg, seemingly in an attempt to help the ball on, but instead succeeding in sending it looping over Jeremias Ledesma.

Atleti survived another scare before half-time when a penalty initially awarded for handball against Koke was overturned by VAR due to the midfielder's arm being on the ground when contact was made.

That proved a big moment as Simeone's side converted a penalty of their own through Suarez five minutes into the second half after Marcos Mauro brought down Lemar.

Suarez blazed over when on for a hat-trick and that nearly proved costly as Atletico failed to deal with a ball into the box and Negredo scrambled past Oblak to give Cadiz hope.

Oblak then had to be alert to keep out Negredo's header, but the next goal went Atletico's way, substitute Angel Correa exchanging passes with Marcos Llorente and squaring for Koke to round off the scoring.

Luis Suarez is "blowing up LaLiga" to prove to Barcelona that he is not finished, according to Gustavo Poyet.

Barca made the decision to allow Suarez to leave in the close-season after a successful six-year stay at Camp Nou.

Domestic rivals Atletico Madrid moved swiftly to sign him on a two-year contract in September and have reaped the rewards.

Uruguay international Suarez has scored 12 goals in 15 league games, adding two assists, and his side sat seven points clear at the top of the table heading into the weekend's top-flight action.

His compatriot Poyet, who formerly starred with Real Zaragoza, Chelsea and Tottenham, believes Suarez has been desperate to show he is not past his best, having turned 34 this month.

Discussing why he thinks Atletico are title favourites, Poyet told Stats Perform News: "They took a very important decision which would not be easy for some people.

"It was easy for El Cholo [head coach Diego Simeone], from what I know of him.

"Bringing in Luis Suarez as Barcelona didn't want him, bring him in now. And Luis went with his mentality, 'I will show you who I am'.

"A bit like a Uruguayan I am, 'You don't want me? Am I over? Let’s see!'. 

"And this is blowing up LaLiga."

Leaving Barcelona gave Suarez the push he needed to make changes and give something extra, in the view of Poyet.

He added: "What it shows is that sometimes football players need something different, just something.

"It can be a different treatment or being tougher [on them]. But they need something to react to.

"He was low, not bad, but like the [Barcelona] team, he was low. He needed a new challenge and sometimes it is tough to get it in the same club.

"It can happen with arrival of a new manager, or signing a new player who becomes a rival of yours. There are different ways, but if it does not happen, it looks difficult.

"However, there is no doubt that joining such a special team like Atletico with such a special coach, similar character [to Suarez], you get it and he is showing that extra [effort] needed.

"Sometimes we all need to realise. Get out from the club and notice that you have to do something to change the situation.

"I was not doubtful on his performance, especially playing in that system and having that responsibility.

"I don't forget it that it was him or Diego Costa [playing] at the beginning, sometimes both together. But at the time, Costa had gone, with all the respect to other players, it was only Luis Suarez.

"That also gives him the responsibility on scoring 20 to 30 goals and Luis accepts it in a natural way."

Atletico play away to Cadiz on Sunday and Poyet was asked if he thinks they can finish the job and win the title in the second half of the season.

"I do, for two reasons," he replied. "First, they are very strong, all credit to them, and also, because Real Madrid and Barcelona are currently really poor.

"I don't see any consistency in any of them. Unfortunately, when I look at Barcelona or Real Madrid I don't know what to expect from them, I don't know what is going to happen.

"And that proves it is a year for other teams like Atletico Madrid of El Cholo to go the distance, to actually show they belong at the top without any falling.

"We will see how they can keep it up. We know everything can change with injuries, sending-offs, everything can become really difficult. But no doubts, the main candidate is Atletico Madrid."

Joao Felix promised he has much more to offer Atletico Madrid after marking his first LaLiga start of 2021 with a goal and an assist against Valencia.

Sunday's 3-1 victory saw Joao Felix both score and create a goal for the third time in a game this season, more than any other Atleti player.

But the other standout displays from the club's record signing had come in the early weeks of the campaign.

Between the November international break and this clash at the Wanda Metropolitano, Joao Felix netted just once in all competitions, also supplying a single assist.

That underwhelming stretch saw the Portugal forward lose his place in the league XI, but a tight turnaround from Thursday's win at Eibar provided an opportunity he duly grasped.

Joao Felix cancelled out Uros Racic's spectacular Valencia opener with a smart finish ahead of Thierry Correia, before his second-half pass set Luis Suarez away to score the second. Angel Correa, who replaced Joao Felix, completed the scoring.

A return to form gave Joao Felix the opportunity to discuss his recent trials, although there are no hard feelings towards coach Diego Simeone.

"I can give so much more," said the 21-year-old, who played 62 minutes. "No footballer likes being on the bench, but it also happened to me at Benfica.

"I know what I am capable of and, when the coach chooses me to play, I have to do my best. I am calm. Cholo [Simeone] does what is best for the team."

Atleti president Enrique Cerezo was asked by Movistar for his take on Joao Felix's rollercoaster season.

"No-one doubts that Joao Felix is a great player," he replied. "If the coach decides to change him, it will be for some reason.

"But he does not have to get angry or upset, like everyone else. Neither the players, the coach nor the fans want to lose, and when you lose, you get mad."

There has been nothing inconsistent about the form of Suarez, who has 12 goals in his first 15 LaLiga games for Atleti, the best start to life at a new club by any player in Spain's top flight since Cristiano Ronaldo netted 13 in 15 matches for Real Madrid in 2009-10.

Joao Felix described Suarez as "lethal", while Cerezo sees the veteran's sensational form as justification of their pursuit of the former Barcelona striker.

"We have always thought that Luis Suarez was the best centre-forward in Europe," he said. "We are lucky that he is with us. Everyone is happy."

Seven straight wins have moved Atleti seven points clear of rivals Madrid and they still have a game in hand, but Cerezo is not getting carried away.

"You can lose [the title] or you can win it," he said. "We are in the middle of the season and there is a lot left. We are first but there is a lot left.

"When there are three games left, I'll tell you if we are champions. The team is doing very well and the players know very well what they have to do: score goals and win games."

Luis Suarez was hailed as "amazing" by Diego Simeone after firing Atletico Madrid seven points clear at the top of LaLiga.

A late penalty was Suarez's second strike of the game and secured a 2-1 win over Eibar on Thursday night, taking the striker's haul to 11 goals in 14 league games.

Such has been the Uruguayan's impact since arriving from Barcelona, it even sparked a post-match question to Simeone as to whether he might be the coach's best signing.

In a little over nine years in charge of Atletico, Simeone has brought a host of notable players to the club, with Jan Oblak and Antoine Griezmann among them.

Simeone recognises Suarez's impact, but he was reluctant to compare the signings he has made during his reign.

"I don't stop in mid-season to think about such an argument," Simeone said. "He is amazing and we are very happy that he is with us.

"He is a great player with great characteristics. He knew how to play the game and gave us an important victory with a great defensive effort from the team."

The handsome lead that Atletico now hold over second-placed Real Madrid makes them favourites to land a first LaLiga title since 2013-14. They even have a game in hand.

But rather than take glee from toiling rivals Real Madrid exiting the Copa del Rey to third-tier minnows Alcoyano on Wednesday night, Simeone said such a result served as a reminder there are no certainties in football.

"It makes us pay attention and understand that football is more complex every day," Simeone said.

"Barca also won [against Cornella] in extra time ... Bayern [Munich] also lost in their cup, football is not simple.

"The opposition compete, they do it well and it makes us always be alert. Football is wonderful because it always gives you the chance to win."

Suarez, who sits third on Barcelona's list of all-time leading scorers, was a remarkable close-season acquisition by Atletico.

He has now scored 12 times in LaLiga against Eibar, more than he has managed against any other team.

The one-time Ajax and Liverpool frontman has looked sharp for his new team and puts his success down to the warm reception he was given, having at one stage appeared reluctant to leave Barcelona.

"I'm very happy. The team has been very welcoming," Suarez said. "They make me feel at home. I try to help the team the best I can, but we are all doing it too.

"We are showing everyone that we want to fight for important things.

"We need to keep working. We need to keep fighting for all the goals we set at the beginning of the season."


After Falcao and Griezmann, Suarez becomes new Atletico goal hero

It will be how well he sustains his early form that dictates how Suarez is eventually remembered at Atletico, but there can be no denying he has made a spectacular start.

He is averaging one goal every 92.18 minutes in LaLiga and has a 25.58 per cent shot conversion rate in the competition.

No player with more than one league goal during the Simeone era has a better average minute-per-goal record than Suarez, although Radamel Falcao comes close, with his 43 LaLiga goals under the Argentinian coach coming at one every 109.58 minutes.

Of all the players with more Atletico goals than Suarez in Simeone's time as coach, only Kevin Gameiro (27.14 per cent) has a better shot conversion percentage.

Suarez has so far had 13 goalscoring opportunities defined by Opta as 'big chances' and has gobbled up eight of those for an immensely healthy 61.54 per cent strike rate, better than any Atletico player with 10 goals or more in Simeone's time.

Griezmann remains Atletico's LaLiga leading scorer during Simeone's tenure, with 94 goals from 180 games, snaffling 53.04 per cent of his 115 big chances with an overall shot conversion rate of 21.22 per cent.

Only across one season of his Barcelona career did Suarez score at a faster rate in LaLiga than he has to date for Atletico.

In the 2015-16 campaign he plundered 40 goals from 35 games at a clip of one every 78.75 minutes on the pitch.

He eclipsed Lionel Messi in the scoring stakes that season as Barcelona edged out Madrid and Atletico in a three-team title battle.

This term, Suarez, who turns 34 on Sunday, is threatening to barge the Clasico giants out of contention and help Atletico make it a one-horse race.

 

Luis Suarez was the hero as LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid overcame Eibar 2-1 thanks to the Uruguay striker's late penalty.

Suarez had struck his 10th league goal of the season in the 40th minute of Thursday's contest, restoring parity after Eibar had taken an early lead through an unlikely source.

With Yannick Carrasco penalised for bundling into Yoshinori Muto, it was Eibar goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic who confidently converted the resultant spot-kick.

Yet Dmitrovic could not save a penalty at the other end, Suarez chipping home to secure a somewhat undeserved victory after he was felled needlessly by Anaitz Arbilla.

For a player who had never previously scored a senior goal, Dmitrovic showed little hesitation in grabbing the ball after Carrasco was adjudged to have fouled Muto.

His confidence was not misplaced, the goalkeeper calmly sending counterpart Jan Oblak the wrong way with a cool left-footed finish.

Dmitrovic was almost embarrassed 11 minutes later when he struggled to collect a looping ball on his line, though Stefan Savic's foul spared his blushes, before Angel Correa hit the crossbar with a wicked volley.

Yet Atleti did hit back before the break, Suarez thumping in from a tight angle following Sergio Alvarez's mistake to bring up his 11th LaLiga goal against Eibar.

Diego Simeone made a double change at half-time – Joao Felix and Lucas Torreira introduced – though Kike Garcia might have restored Eibar's lead if not for Oblak's brave lunge.

Atleti finally gained a foothold after Pedro Bigas headed over from close range, though it looked like Dmitrovic's save from Joao Felix would be enough to earn Eibar a point.

It was not to be, however, with Arbilla's clumsy tackle on Suarez handing the former Barcelona star a chance to wrap up the win – an opportunity he took in typically composed fashion.

 

Diego Simeone called upon his Atletico Madrid players to be "constantly prepared" going into the second half of the season and warned of the "traps" that lie in store as they aim to win their first LaLiga title since 2014.

Luis Suarez scored in the 90th minute to earn Simeone's men a 2-1 victory over Deportivo Alaves on Sunday, extending their domestic winning streak to four matches and moving them two points clear of nearest rivals Real Madrid, who have played two games more.

Asked to assess his side's performance after 15 games of the season, Simeone said he expects the challenge of staying at the top of the table to be one of increasing difficulty.

"We understand that the league is complex," Simeone told reporters. "It is difficult, it has traps, you have to be constantly prepared.

"You cannot leave room to relax, because all the teams want to win. We are going to start the second round shortly and it will not be with the same calm that one perhaps plays the first round.

"The second round will be tougher, with the teams that want to save themselves and those that want to fight to enter the Europa League and the Champions League. It alerts us to the fact that the only way to play is match-by-match."

Suarez provided the assist for Atletico's opener, scored by Marcos Llorente, and the visitors were given a further boost when Victor Laguardia was sent-off after 63 minutes.

But Alaves levelled the match six minutes from time when Felipe put into his own net, only for Suarez to come up with a late winner.

Simeone expressed his satisfaction with the way his side ended the game, picking out second-half substitutes Saul Niguez and Joao Felix for praise.

"The most beautiful thing about tonight was how the game ended," said Simeone. "Not getting nervous, looking to play together.

"And the goal was a great goal, a very good play by Saul with [Thomas] Lemar and Joao, defining the nine where it should be.

"I understood that the game lasts 90 minutes and having important players also waiting for what might happen is a useful strategy.

"Obviously, Joao came on and played very well and that is what makes me happy, same as Saul - he entered very well and that makes me very happy too.

"I'm very happy for a victory that we worked very hard for."

Atletico Madrid returned to the summit of LaLiga as Luis Suarez's dramatic 90th-minute goal sealed a 2-1 win over Deportivo Alaves on Sunday. 

Diego Simeone's side dropped to second following Real Madrid's 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday, but a fourth consecutive top-flight victory restored a two-point advantage over their city rivals with still two games in hand. 

Marcos Llorente put the visitors ahead after 41 minutes with his latest long-range effort – his five from outside the penalty area since the beginning of 2020 more than any other LaLiga player. 

Alaves brushed off Victor Laguardia's 63rd-minute red card to pull level six minutes from time through Felipe's outrageous own goal, but Suarez popped up at the death to snatch a memorable win for Los Rojiblancos. 

 

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