Atlético Madrid kicked off the second half of the season with a 2-1 victory over Levante, as Los Colchoneros closed the gap on league leaders Real Madrid to five points.
Atleti took the lead inside 13 minutes when Angel Correa swept home a lovely Kieran Trippier cross. But Levante were back on level terms only three minutes later, when Roger Marti's deflected shot crept beyond Jan Oblak and into the net.
Diego Simeone's men quickly restored their lead thanks to a brave Felipe header, latching onto Renan Lodi's excellent cross from the left-hand side. The hosts continued to push during an exciting first half, but they failed to build on their one-goal advantage.
Los Rojiblancos dominated the second period, creating a host of clear-cut opportunities, but Alvaro Morata and Joao Felix both fluffed their lines when presented with the opportunity to put the result beyond doubt. Oblak was forced into two sensational saves in the final ten minutes, but Atleti held on to keep alive their title hopes.
Key Talking Point
New year, new Diego? Atleti
There was something new and sexy about this Atleti side, however. The tenacity was still there, but the tempo, the desire to get forward - the flying wing-backs: it was a joy to behold. The sacrifice made by this new-look Colchoneros side was their defensive solidity however, and they took a few-too-many risks in the early exchanges.
But these were promising signs for Atleti fans, who have become all-too familiar with their coach's pragmatic and combative style. The big questions is: how long will the New Year's resolution of entertainment and happiness last?
STAR MAN -
Simeone is a manager who demands defensive focus and ability, and no man would feature in his team without it. So Trippier will have learnt plenty during his short time in Spain, while also demonstrating his inch-perfect crossing to great effect. It was his inviting ball which assisted the opening goal, and the full-back continued to maraud up and down the right-hand side, providing a wonderful outlet for his grateful teammates.
That particular piece of business looks worse and worse for Spurs, with every passing week.
Levante Player Ratings
Atleti follow up their victory over Levante with a trip to Camp Nou on Thursday, where Simeone's men will take on Barcelona in the semi-final of the Supercopa de
Levante take on third division side