Atletico Madrid extend winning run in La Liga

Santi Comesana of Rayo Vallecano, Joao Felix of Atletico Madrid during the La Liga Santander match between Rayo Vallecano v Atletico Madrid at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas on March 19, 2022 in Madrid Spain.

Atletico Madrid have extended their hot streak with a 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano in La Liga courtesy of Koke' second-half winner in a capital derby.

Defending champions Atletico's sixth win in seven matches overall lifted them ahead of Barcelona into third place, and just two points behind Sevilla.

League leaders Real Madrid are 12 points ahead of Atletico before they host Barcelona on Sunday in the latest instalment of the clasico.

Diego Simeone repeated his line-up from Tuesday's 1-0 win at Old Trafford that ousted Manchester United from the Champions League in the round of 16.

After constantly tweaking his XI as Atleti struggled at times this season, Simeone appears to have found a winning formula with Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix in attack and Luis Suarez coming off the bench.

Felix linked up with Koke in the 49th minute for the game's only goal.

After receiving the ball in the box, Koke passed it back for Felix arriving in a second wave.

The Portugal forward slid the ball right back to meet Koke's move around his marker, and the Spain midfielder did the rest by slotting his shot inside the far post.

I think we have made this click, Koke said.

We have increased our intensity and our concentration and that is why we are on this run.

(We have improved) both in defence and attack. We are keeping clean sheets and that is giving us wins.

Atletico's win was marred by a red card to substitute Angel Correa, which appeared to be for something the forward said to the referee, after he committed a foul in the 86th.

Correa is Atletico's top scorer this season with 12 goals.

Rayo, who were fourth in December, have slumped to 13th after 10 rounds without a win.

Meanwhile, Osasuna dealt a blow to Levante's diminishing chances of avoiding relegation by easing to a 3-1 win over the league's bottom team.

Ruben Garcaa, who set up one of Osasuna's goals, will now focus on participating in a convoy of humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Garcia will join a convoy of at least five trucks loaded with medicines and baby supplies that plans to leave Spain on Thursday for Poland's border with Ukraine to help attend to the streams of refugees fleeing Russia's invasion.

Two teams trying to stave off the drop produced the day's liveliest clash, with Granada scoring late to complete a 3-2 comeback victory at Alaves.

A first win in nine rounds lifted Granada four points clear of the bottom three while Alaves remained in second-to-last-place.

Valencia winger Goncalo Guedes scored early in the second half to give them a 1-0 win at Elche.

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