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Atletico Madrid extended their advantage over fourth-placed Real Madrid to seven points ahead of Los Blancos’ trip to Malaga with a professional 3-0 win over relegation-threatened Levante on Sunday afternoon. 

A trio of equally impressive finishes courtesy of Angel Correa, Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres afforded Atleti a comfortable afternoon, although Granotas enjoyed spells of promise but were unable to find a way through the hosts’ defence. 

The three points places further doubt on Zinedine Zidane’s quest to clinch second spot while potentially tees up a nervy close to the campaign for Levante.

An electric Wanda Metropolitano greeted both sides which entered the Madrid amphitheatre with very different season-ending goals in mind. Diego Simeone’s men eyed maximum points in their pursuit in finishing above bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga for only the third time since the turn of the century, while Paco Lopez’s XI headed in the contest looking to escape a second relegation in three years. 

And despite the visitors enjoying a couple of early openings, Atleti’s foothold in the contest as the minutes passed by continued to increase, although the Europa League semi-finalists struggled to test Oier Olazabal in the opening 30 minutes.  

However, three minutes after the stroke of the half-hour, Correa did indeed find a way through the resilient Levante defence and punished Granotas from around 12 yards with a well-struck finish. 

Team-mate Vitolo’s winding run into the area opened up a pocket of space for the 23-year-old, and following a smart drag back, which effectively removed three defenders from the defensive line, the Argentine dispatched his effort into Oier’s bottom left-hand corner to give the hosts a deserved lead.   

And around five minutes before the break, Griezmann was adamant his side should have been afforded the opportunity to double their advantage from the penalty spot after he appeared to be felled by the visiting shot-stopper. 

However, referee Jesus Gil Manzano deemed there to be no contact and subsequently brandished the Frenchman a yellow card; which, on reflection, seemed a dubious decision, at best before the 34-year-old Spaniard brought an end to the first half.

After the break, Atleti’s dominance continued, and just three minutes into the second half, Griezmann found Simeone’s men’s second breakthrough of the afternoon with a rifled effort into the top right-hand corner. 

Sime Vrsaljko found space down Levante’s left before offloading possession to the 27-year-old inside the area, and the attacker did not need to be asked twice as he leathered his right-footed attempt past the static Oier, who was left with no chance in the Levante goal. 

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After falling further behind, Levante rallied and saw themselves enjoy spells of possession inside Madrid’s final third, however, their lack of prowess as opportunities arose was punished 15 minutes from time as substitute Torres, who replaced Griezmann shortly after the Frenchman’s goal, volleyed home to wrap up all three points. 

Correa burst down the right-hand side before finding El Nino, who recently announced this year will be his last at the Wanda, and the veteran showed why he plans to continue his footballing career in the coming years by slamming his first-time effort past the helpless Oier to round off a perfect afternoon for Atleti. 

The result extends Atletico Madrid’s advantage over Real Madrid to seven points, although Los Blancos have the chance to drag it back to four when they take on Malaga on Sunday evening. 

For Levante, meanwhile, following Deportivo La Coruna’s recent resurgence, five points is now all that separates last year’s Segunda champions and the bottom three with the same amount of games remaining. 

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