Apr 18, 2014 at 7.30pm UK at ​Vicente Calderon Stadium
AtleticoAtletico Madrid
2-0
ElcheElche
Miranda (72'), Costa (90' pen.)
Costa (63'), Garcia (73')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Sapunaru (49'), Coro (55'), Rivera (63'), Pelegrin (65')
Sapunaru (90')

Live Commentary: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Elche - as it happened

Atletico boss Diego Simeone on the touchline against Rayo on August 25, 2013
© Getty Images
Sports Mole brings you live commentary of the La Liga clash in the Spanish capital as Atletico Madrid beat Elche 2-0.

Atletico Madrid welcomed Elche to the Spanish capital on Friday looking to move six points clear at the top of La Liga.

Elche had the better of the chances in an open first period, but the score remained goalless at the interval.

David Villa missed a penalty for Atletico in the early stages of the second half, but the capital outfit moved ahead after 72 minutes when Miranda headed a Jose Sosa corner into the top corner.

The points were secure in second-half stoppage time when Diego Costa scored from the penalty spot after Cristian Sapunaru, who was dismissed, had felled the Spanish international inside the area.

Read how it all unfolded in Sports Mole's minute-by-minute live commentary of the action below.


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7.01pmEvening all! Week 34 in La Liga opens from the Spanish capital as Atletico Madrid welcome Elche. With just five league games remaining, Atletico top the league on 82 points. Another victory this evening would take them six points clear of second-place Real Madrid and seven clear of third-place Barcelona. Elche, however, are in need of the points for a very different reason. As it stands, they sit 15th, just four points outside of the relegation zone in La Liga. Right, let me bring you the team news from the Calderon.

7.04pmTEAMS:

ATLETICO: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe; Tiago, Gabi, Koke; Adrian, Costa, Villa

ELCHE: M Herrera; Damian, Pelegrin, Botia, Sapunaru; Sanchez, Rivera, Marquez; Coro, Gil, C Herrera


7.07pmSo there we have it. Diego Costa is in the Atletico XI this evening despite suffering that nasty gash last time out against Getafe. There is also a start for Spaniard Adrian Lopez, but Arda Turan is still on the sidelines. There are no real surprises in the Elche side, meanwhile, with Cristian Herrera joined by Coro and Carles Gil in the final third. Carlos Sanchez is also in the XI for the visitors.



7.10pmAs mentioned, the reverse match earlier this season ended in a 2-0 Atletico win. Atletico also enter the match in the stronger form having not lost in their last 11, but Elche have won just one of their last five. Last time out, Atletico were 2-0 winners over Getafe, while Elche lost 2-1 at European-chasing Valencia.

7.13pmAtletico boss Diego Simeone continues to insist that his side are still the third favourites for the title this season, but the weeks keep evaporating. Atletico, Real Madrid and Barcelona have all played 33 league games and it is the former that sit three points clear at the summit. Victory at the Calderon this evening would move the capital side onto 85 points and allow them to take another big step towards the crown.



7.16pmAtletico's home form this season has been sensational. The capital outfit have won 14 of their 17 league games at the Calderon, remaining unbeaten in the process. What's more, they have conceded just nine times at home, which is comfortably the best record in the league. Simeone's side also secured their spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League with a 2-1 aggregate win over La Liga holders Barcelona last week.

7.19pmElche's defensive record in La Liga - in relation to the teams around them - has been fairly solid this season with 44 conceded. Atletico, however, have the best defensive record in the league having conceded just 22 times. Down the other end, Elche have scored just 27 times, which is the lowest record in the league. Atletico, meanwhile, have netted 72 times thus far, with leading scorer Costa scoring 26 La Liga goals.



7.22pmIn truth, anything above 18th would be deemed an extremely successful season for Elche, who have had their problems this season. Their home form has been fairly solid with six wins and six draws from their 17 matches, but they have won just twice on the road all season. The omens are not too strong!

7.25pmAs it stands, Elche sit 15th in the table on 35 points. They are just one point clear of 16th-place Osasuna, who have also played 33 games, while Getafe are 18th on 31 points. In truth, Real Betis have all but been relegated, but there are still as many as eight teams looking over their shoulder. Any sort of result for Elche this evening would hand them huge confidence ahead of the final weeks of the campaign.

7.28pmPREDICTION: Real Madrid and Barcelona supporters will certainly be hoping for a miracle from Elche this evening, but I just cannot see it. Atletico have not come this far to slip up against Elche at the Calderon. I am not expecting the visitors to roll over - far from it - but I think Atletico will have too much on the night. My score prediction is 2-0 Atletico, with Costa adding to his league tally.

0 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the first period. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. You just get the feeling that Elche need to score first if they are to take something from this match. Right, the home side get the first period underway.

2 minIt is quite simple for Atletico - four wins and they are champions. They travel to Barcelona on the final weekend of the season, but it could be all done and dusted by then. Early free kick for Atletico down the right, but Koke's set piece is met by Carlos Sanchez, who clears his lines under pressure from Tiago.

4 minCalm goalkeeping from Manu Herrera as the Elche stopper decides to execute a turn inside his own box under pressure from Villa, but the Spaniard does manage to keep hold of the possession. Elche break down the other end with Coro moments later, but Godin takes control at the vital moment. Still goalless at the Calderon.

6 minCHANCE! The first chance of the match falls to Costa following smart work from Adrian inside the Elche box, but the Spaniard's strike smashes into the side netting. Early confidence from Atletico, but Elche have also shown their attacking intent in what has been an open six minutes of football in Madrid.

7 minCHANCE! Another chance for Atletico as Villa turns the ball beyond the final Elche defender for Costa, but Manu Herrera is out to claim at the vital moment. The pressure is building from the home side.

9 minDespite a couple of chances for Atletico, it has been a confident start from Elche, with Carlos Sanchez given freedom in the middle of the park. Koke tries his luck for the home side outside the box, but Botia makes the block. End-to-end football at the Calderon, but both sides are forcing the issue in the final third.

11 minStrong pressure from Atletico in the last couple of moments as Diego Simeone's side force two corners in quick succession, but Botia and Sanchez take it in turns to clear the danger. Elche attempt to break with Coro, but his pass is too straight for Herrera, who certainly has the pace to trouble Atletico tonight.

13 minCHANCE! A beautiful move from Atletico brings another chance as Luis combines with Koke before finding Costa. The Spaniard steps inside Botia before rolling a loss towards Villa, but Pelegrin is on hand to make a fine block. Moments later, Gabi fires straight into the arms of Herrera.

16 minIt is smart work from Carles Gil as the Elche forward drives into the Atletico box before rolling a low cross towards Herrera, but Tiago is on hand to clear for a corner. The resulting set piece brings a half-chance for the away side, but Tiago clears a deep cross from Rivera. Good spell for Elche with 16 minutes on the clock.

18 minYou just get the feeling that Atletico are going to need to be patient this evening. It is that type of match at the moment. Elche are not here for the sights that is for certain as Carlos Sanchez starts another counter. Confident football from the away side as they continue to pass and probe in the Atletico half.

20 minNot too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments, but it is Elche that remain in control of the ball. Atletico pushed for the early goal, but Elche have since settled and are now enjoying events at the Calderon. Costa threatens to run behind the Elche defence moments later, but the flag is raised.

23 minJust a reminder that Elche are the lowest scorers in the league this season with 27 goals. They play some nice football, but really lack a poacher in the final third. Atletico have found it difficult to break through thus far, however. Costa has a penalty shout for the home side after clashing with Sapunaru inside the Elche box, but the referee is not interested. It remains goalless with 23 minutes on the clock.

25 minUntidy period of the match in the last five minutes or so as both sides continue to concede possession in the final third. It has been a laboured performance from Atletico thus far, but we have seen it all too often this season. Suddenly they break and find the back of the net. Elche will be aware of the threat.

26 minCHANCE! Elche's best chance of the match falls to Javi Marquez after the midfielder finds some space outside the box before striking towards the bottom corner, but Courtois is across to make the save.

27 minCHANCE! Another chance for Elche from the resulting corner as Sapunaru rises inside the Atletico box, but once more Courtois is on hand to make the save. Brilliant from the Belgian stopper.

28 minCHANCE! It is Atletico's turn to come close as Luis is teed up inside the Elche box, but he slices his effort wide of the post. Chances at either end with 28 minutes on the clock.

30 minElche's confidence continues to grow as the away side pass and probe outside the Atletico box, but Herrera loses control at the vital moment under pressure from Koke. Some whistles can be heard from the home supporters, meanwhile, as the tension grows inside the stadium. Elche can almost sense something here.

31 minCHANCE! Incredible chance for Elche as Coro slides a low pass to Gil inside the Atletico box, but his effort is high and wide of the crossbar. Atletico are living dangerously here!

34 minWell, it isn't going quite to plan for Atletico at the moment. The home side are attempting to raise the tempo, but the offside flag has gone against them in the last couple of minutes. Not too much of an atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment, meanwhile, as Elche continue to threaten on the counter attack.

36 minSanchez tries his luck for Elche after finding some space outside the box, but his effort is wide of the post. Adrian attempts to find Costa with a flick down the other end, but Botia is across to thump clear.

37 min

39 minMuch better from Atletico in the last couple of moments, with the likes of Gabi and Adrian seeing more of the ball in the final third. A half-chance arrives as Godin meets a corner from Koke, but Sapunaru is on hand to make the clearance. Little over five minutes of the first period remaining and still it remains goalless.

40 min

43 minShort, sharp passing from Elche as the away side continue to enjoy plenty of the ball in the Atletico half. In truth, it has been a really laboured performance from Atletico thus far. I suspect that Diego Simeone will have some harsh words to say at the interval. Not too much to report with 43 minutes on the clock in Madrid.

43 minCHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side as Villa meets a Costa flick at the far post, but the Spaniard can only turn his low effort wide of the post. Best chance of the half for Atletico.

45 minHALF-TIME: Atletico 0-0 Elche

8.17pmSo there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with the two sides level at 0-0. It has been a difficult first 45 minutes for Atletico, with Elche having the best of the chances. It was supposed to be a simple three points for the La Liga leaders, but Elche had clearly not read the script!

8.22pmSTATISTICS: Atletico have just about shaded the possession with 55%, while they have had six attempts - just one of which has been on target. Elche, meanwhile, have hit the target with three of their six attempts. There has not been a single card, meanwhile, in a fairly calm 45 minutes of football.

8.27pmBENCH WATCH: Atletico have a number of attacking options on their bench this evening in the shape of Raul Garcia, Rodriguez, Diego and Sosa. Meanwhile, Elche have the likes of Aaron, Mantecon, Boakye and Fidel in reserve. There are certainly players on both benches that could change this contest.

46 minHere we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. Can Atletico find that all-important first goal? Elche have proved a seriously tough nut to crack thus far, but Simeone would have had some serious words at the interval. Right, the away side get the second 45 minutes of action underway.

46 minSUB! One change for Atletico at the interval, with Raul Garcia entering the field in place of Adrian, who failed to influence proceedings in the first period.

48 minNo changes for Elche at the interval, which is not much of a surprise. Atletico will need to improve in the second half if they are to take all three points from this contest. Immediately there is more intensity to Atletico's play in the final third as Garcia forces a corner from Elche centre-back Botia.

50 minAnother half-chance for the home side as Villa finds some space outside the box before sliding a low pass towards Gabi, but the skipper cannot collect. Elche break down the other end with Sanchez, but his pass asks too much from Herrera. End-to-end football, but still the score remains goalless in the Spanish capital.

50 minPENALTY ATLETICO! Atletico are awarded a penalty as Sapunaru, who is also booked, pulls Garcia to the ground inside the box. Poor defending from the makeshift left-back.

50 minMISS! Villa's spot kick is straight down the middle and Herrera makes the save! Change of penalty taker for the home side and it has been wasted once more. Wow!

52 minAtletico have now missed their last penalties - one from Costa and one from Villa. What a moment that could be in this match. It will hand Elche hope, but Atletico are now piling on the pressure at the Calderon.

54 minElche just cannot keep the ball at the moment as Atletico continue to force the issue in the final third. Luis drives a low cross towards Costa, but Botia is on hand to clear at the vital moment. You just get the feeling that Elche need to score first if they are to take something from this match as the pressure grows.

55 minBOOKING! Coro enters the book for Elche following a late challenge on Garcia.

57 minGOAL DISALLOWED! Atletico have the ball in the back of the net as Villa turns a header from Luis into the back of the net from close range, but the offside flag had been raised.

57 minSUBS! Atletico make their second change of the match as Koke is replaced by Diego. Elche also make a change of their own as Fidel replaces Herrera.

59 minNot too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments, but Atletico remain in control of the ball. You just get the feeling that chances will arrive in the latter stages, but Elche continue to carry a threat of their own in the final third. Little over 30 minutes of football remaining at the Calderon.

62 minStill plenty of time for Atletico to score this evening, but the tension in the stadium is quite extraordinary. It is the Elche supporters that can be heard as their side attacks once more through Fidel, but his cross is cleared by Godin. Atletico attempt to break, but Botia is across to clear once more.

62 minSUB! Atletico make their third and final change as Sosa enters the field in place of Villa, whose penalty miss could prove costly this evening. Simeone has not waited to use his bench!

64 minBOOKINGS! Costa is booked for Atletico, while Rivera is booked for Elche following an altercation between both players. Rivera appears to aim a punch towards Gabi moments later and it lucky to escape a red. Suddenly this match has exploded!

65 minBOOKING! Pelegrin is now booked for Elche after a really poor challenge on Costa.

66 minIt is an extremely ill-tempered affair at the moment as Atletico continue to look for the opener. Coro clashes with Miranda moments later, but the ball had already dropped out of play. Who would have predicted this? Real Madrid and Barcelona supporters will be hoping that Elche can hold on in the capital.

68 minCHANCE! Wonderful chance for Costa following a deep cross from Garcia, but the Atletico forward just loses control at the vital moment under pressure from Botia. What an opportunity!

70 minThe untidy period of the match continues as the referee is forced to intervene following a number of late challenges. Elche are still threatening on the counter, but it is Atletico in control of the possession. Simeone, meanwhile, is acting cheerleader on the sidelines in attempt to raise the home supporters.

72 minDiego takes matters into his own hands for Atletico after finding some space outside the box, but his effort is high and wide of the crossbar. It has been that type of match for the home side thus far.

72 minSUB! Elche look to their bench once more as Gil, who missed Elche's best chance in the first period, is replaced by Aaron Niguez, who will provide some serious pace in the final third.

72 minGOAL! Atletico 1-0 Elche (Miranda)

73 minLift-off Atletico! The home side take the lead after 72 minutes as Miranda heads a Sosa corner into the top corner. Incredible sense of relief inside the stadium!

73 minBOOKING! Garcia enters the book for Atletico following a late challenge on Sanchez.

75 minThat is a massive, massive goal for Atletico in their quest for the title this season. Can Elche respond? I would not put it beyond them at this stage of proceedings. However, Atletico can now sit in and absorb.

77 minHalf-chance for the away side as Sanchez rises highest inside the Atletico box, but his header is straight into the arms of Courtois. Gasps inside the stadium as the midfielder climbed above Miranda. Little over 10 minutes of football remaining at the Calderon. Costa chases a through pass from Diego moments later, but the Spanish international is ruled offside at the final moment.

78 minSUB! Elche make their third and final change of the match as Boakye enters the field in place of Marquez. It is all or nothing for the away side in the latter stages.

80 minCHANCE! Wonderful chance for Elche as Botia meets a swinging cross from Sanchez inside the Atletico box, but his header is just wide of the post. Atletico are not safe here that is for certain.

82 minOpportunity for Atletico to break as Luis delivers a long pass into the Elche half, but Costa goes down under a firm challenge from Sapunaru. It is a clear foul, but the referee is not interested. Time must be moving extremely slowly for Diego Simeone at the moment, but his side have the lead in the Spanish capital.

84 minPossession football from Elche, but Atletico are dealing with the threat in and around their box. You just get the feeling that chances will arrive for both sides in the latter stages as the match continues to become stretched. Diego moves into the Elche box after combining with Costa, but his cross is collected by Herrera.

86 minOpportunity for Elche to threaten from a set piece as Miranda fells Sanchez. The resulting set piece is delivered towards Botia, but it moves out of play for a goal kick. Atletico breath another sigh of relief as time continues to drift away in the capital. As it stands, they are going six points clear at the summit.

89 minCHANCE! Wonderful chance for Costa to secure all the points for Atletico following a through pass from Diego, but Herrera is on hand to make a fine save. Elche are still in this match!

90 minPENALTY ATLETICO, RED CARD SAPUNARU

90 min+1Atletico are awarded a penalty and Sapunaru is sent from the field for pulling Costa to the ground inside the box.

90 min+1GOAL! Atletico 2-0 Elche (Costa, pen)

90 min+2I predicted 2-0 Atletico, with Costa to score earlier this evening and that is indeed the case as the Spaniard rolls his effort into the bottom corner. The points are secure for the home side, who are moving six points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

90 min+3FULL-TIME: Atletico 2-0 Elche

9.22pmSo there we have it. Atletico continue their winning run and take another big step towards the La Liga title with a 2-0 success over Elche. It was far from straight-forward, but Atletico have all the points. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Good evening!

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