Late Morata goal gives Atletico key La Liga win


Alvaro Morata of Atletico Madrid celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's first goal during the LaLiga Santander match between Girona FC and Atletico de Madrid at Montilivi Stadium on March 13, 2023 in Girona, Spain.

It took Alvaro Morata and his Atletico Madrid teammates more than three minutes to be able to celebrate the striker’s important winner against Girona in Spain’s La Liga.

Morata’s goal early in second half added time on Monday was confirmed only after a lengthy video review, but it finally counted to give Atletico the 1-0 win and sole possession of third place.

Atletico entered the match level on points with Real Sociedad, who on Sunday were held 1-1 at Mallorca. Diego Simeone’s team are still eight points behind second-placed Real Madrid, and 17 behind league leaders Barcelona.

Morata scored from close range after charging towards the far post following a corner kick by Antoine Griezmann. The ball was deflected inside the area before Morata could get to it near the goal line. The assistant raised the flag for offside but the goal eventually stood after being confirmed by the VAR.

Morata said his teammates were initially upset with him because it appeared the ball could have gone in even if he hadn’t touch it.

“To me it was clear, but if they didn’t confirm it I think I would have had to go back home on a bicycle,” he said.

“They (my teammates) were mad at me because I touched it. But I didn’t know if it was going in or not. So just in case I had to finish the play. It was hard to see the ball there and not push it in.”

Atletico celebrated a sixth win in their last eight league games, with two draws, and next host relegation-threatened Valencia.

It was the second loss in a row for Girona, who stay 12th, four points above the relegation zone with a visit next to seventh-placed Rayo Vallecano.

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