Apr 5, 2014 at 3pm UK at ​Vicente Calderon Stadium
AtleticoAtletico Madrid
1-0
Villarreal
Garcia (13')
Koke (67'), Garcia (69'), Suarez (80')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Paulista (42')

Live Commentary: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Villarreal - as it happened

Atletico de Madrid players celebrate after scoring their 2nd goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid CF at Vicente Calderon Stadium on March 2, 2014
© Getty Images
Relive Sports Mole's coverage of Atletico Madrid's clash with Villarreal in La Liga.

Atletico Madrid continued their La Liga title challenge with a 1-0 win against Villarreal this afternoon.

In a game of few genuine chances, Raul Garcia headed in the winner in the first half, as Diego Simeone's side went four points clear at the top of the table.

Villarreal threatened a brief fightback in the second half, but the home side held on to claim a big win as the season enters its final stretch.

See how the action unfolded below.


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2.30pmGood afternoon and welcome to Sports Mole's live commentary of Atletico Madrid's clash with Villarreal in La Liga.

2.32pmTeam news has just reached us here, so without further ado..

2.34pmAtletico: Courtois; Juanfran, Alderweireld, Godin, Felipe; Suarez, Koke, Raul Garcia, Diego Ribas, Cebolla; Villa

2.37pmVillarreal: Asenjo; Mario, Gabriel, Pantic, Jokic; Bruno, Pina; Joan Roman, Trigueros, Cani; Perbet

2.38pmAltetico subs: Aranzubia, Insua, Miranda, Tiago, Adrian, Jose Sosa, Samu Saiz

2.39pmVillarreal subs: Juan Carlos, Aquino, J.Pereira, Moi Gomez, Blazquez, Diego Jimenez, Nahuel Leiva

2.41pmNo Oliver Torres for Villarreal today. The visitors have reportedly neglected against paying £165,000 to make him eligible against his parent club.

2.43pmAtletico have high hopes for the youngster though, so you'd expect him to return to Los Rojiblancos sooner or later. One player who may be heading back to his own parent club from Atleti is Thibaut Courtois.

2.45pmThe on-loan Chelsea stopper has established himself as one of the finest goalkeepers in Europe during his time at Vicente Calderon, and he will be sorely missed should he return to Stamford Bridge. He's in goal today though, it will be interesting to see how well Villarreal can test him at Vicente Calderon.

2.47pmAtletico ally plenty of steel with a touch of silk, and nobody personifies that more than Diego Costa. The all-terrain forward has firmly established himself as Atelti's main man this term, and has developed into one of the most feared strikers in Europe...fortunately for Villarreal, he is unavailable, and for the neutral today, that is a shame.

2.50pmHowever, the Yellow Submarine with take great heart from the absence of the Brazilian-born Spain international. Diego Simeone's men still have the likes of Koke, David Villa and Diego available to them though, and I expect them to edge out today's visitors.

2.52pmVillarreal are looking to push for the European places in La Liga, and victory today could see them up to fifth in the division. There form has been patchy of late though, with just one win in their last five games.

2.54pmAtletico are an intertesting side. Style-wise, they are not the best footballing side to watch. Individually they cannot hold a candle to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi et al at rivals Real Madrid and Barca, but they are top of the league on merit. Simeone must take huge credit. The sum of the team's parts is far greater than the individual talent inside it.

2.56pmThey are a stodgy and hard-working outfit, who grind, snatch and fight their way to the win in every single game. It is sometimes difficult to watch, but it is certainly an effective way of racking up the points.

2.57pmWe're around five minutes or so from kick off, so let's get a prediction...

2.59pmPREDICTION: Atletico 2-0 Villarreal. The home side are famed for their high intensity approach, and they normally fly out the traps in front of their home fans. An early goal will see them retreat as a way of conserving energy. If they do open the scoring first, I cannot look past Los Rojiblancos.

0 minsKICK OFF And here we go then...

1 minsAn early corner for the visitors comes to nothing as Atletico want a free kick wide left high up the pitch. Nothing given, but it's been a fast start by both sides.

3 minsIt will be interesting to see how Atleti cope without their talisman Diego Costa this afternoon. A lot of pressure is on David Villa, and he's just won a corner...

4 minsThe corner is flighted over and Diego tries to catch an ambitious volley on the edge of the box, but the Brazilian gets it wrong it is always going over. Well over.

7 minsNot a whole lot to report on the last few minutes in truth. Both sides having spells of possession. No chances to tell you of as of yet.

9 minsStill fairly subdued at Vicente Calderon. Villarreal have a free kick inside right after Raul Garcia brings down Cani.

10 minsBruno went for goal with his left foot, but it was always ambitious and curls harmlessly wide of Courtois's right-hand post.

12 minsPerbet is nearly played in with a long ball, but it was well cut out. A slight warning from Villarreal though, who may look to hit the striker early after soaking up attacks.

13 minsGOAL! Atletico Madrid 1-0 Villarreal (Raul Garcia)

14 minsIt's easy stuff for the home side. Garcia reacts quickest from a corner to head home and give them the lead. So easy for them, poor defending from the corner from Villarreal.

15 minsAtleti getting into the swings of things now. Felipe and Villa exchange passes wide left before the striker's cross is cut out. Villa probably needs to be more centrally without Diego Costa in the side though. We shall see.

18 minsThe game has gone back into its slumber following the goal. I mentioned that Atleti take their foot off the gas once they have the lead and they seem to be doing just that at the minute. This result will do them nicely.

20 minsFelipe so close to threading in Villa down the left, it's well cut out by a Villarreal defender with the sliding challenge, didn't quite catch who it was, but good work.

22 minsFelipe again with a long ball trying to find Villa, but this time it's Jokic who cuts it out with the header. Atletico have a free kick around 30 yards from goal...

24 minsFelipe tries to combine with Diego this time, but the Brazilian's pass back to the defender is too heavy and the moves breaks down for a goal kick to the visitors.

25 minsCHANCE! Another Atleti corner causes havoc, but Villarreal eventually scramble it clear after something of a schoolboy chase for the ball inside the area. It was Raul Garcia who came closest to swinging a boot to it.

28 minsIt's great control from Villa inside the box. He nonchalantly brings down a high ball to square across the box with one touch, but a teammate can't react quick enough and Villarreal clear. Gabi then ventures on a run down the right, but is thwarted before conceding a foul. All Atletico at the minute.

29 minsFelipe is certainly enojying his afternoon down the left side, this time, his cross is cleared, but Atletico are certainly getting some joy down the left side.

30 minsVillarreal are having to fend off a series off attacks here. They continue to meet a number of crosses with headers clear. Good defending in particular from Jokic.

31 minsCHANCE! The closest Villarreal have come. It breaks to them wide right, and Cani's cross evades a number of players in the box including the Atleti defenders, and it eventually goes to safety the other side of the pitch. It was crying out to be met.

33 minsIt's taken half an hour, but Villarreal have started to muster something in the way of an attack. Cani was thwarted inside the area before a cross missed everyone from wide right.

36 minsUnintentional humour at the Vicente Calderon as a ball out wide was cut out by the referee! The ball bounced off the official before Mario Suarez had to scamper to retrieve possession for his side.

38 minsKoke wins a header from a flighted free kick, but he can't get the direction on it and Asenjo gathers.

40 minsVillarreal are finding it really tough to make the ball stick up top. Perbet is working hard, but nothing is happeneing for him, and his teammates seem reluctant to commit numbers forward.

41 minsGabi takes a arm to the face and wins a free kick inside left, about 30 yards out...

43 minsIt is played short, but Atleti end up with a corner. This time it is easily cleared by Villarreall.

45 minsBruno puts in a decent cross wide left, but it is just too high for Perbet and the chance goes. It's been that kind of half for the Yellow Submarine...

3.46pmHALF TIME Atletico Madrid 1-0 Villarreal

3.48pmBruno's cross is the last meaningful action of the half. In honesty, a fairly dull 45 minutes of football. Atletico scored after 13 minutes and have taken their foot off the gas since.

3.51pmThe performance won't bother Diego Simeone one bit though. They just need to keep up the wins towards the end of the season, and they are heading that way at this point. A win heaps the pressure onto rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid later this evening too.

3.52pmWell, there wasn't a whole lot to say about that half, so we'll get an update from the rest of Europe, as we wait for the second half...

3.55pmUPDATE: Manchester City were a tad fortunate to emerge 4-1 winners over Southampton in the Premier League's lunchtime kick off. Aston Villa and Fulham are goalless, while Crystal Palace are leading Cardiff City 1-0. Hull City are beating Swansea City 1-0, while Juan Mata's goal has given Manchester United the half-time lead against Newcastle United. West Brom are beating Norwich 1-0 at Carrow Road

3.57pmYou can catch half-time reports off all those games, as well City's report on the Sports Mole's homepage.

4pmBack to this game, and it is hard to see how Villarreal can get back into this; they have offered next to nothing as an attacking force. Saying that, stranger things have happened in football. You get the feeling Atletico may come out with their trademark early intensity for the second half and try and put the game to bed. The absence of Diego Costa is obvious though. He adds so much to this team.

45 minsKICK OFF We're back underway...

48 minsGodin gives Courtois something of a slack back-pass and the Belgium keeper does well to hack it clear before he can be closed down. Villarreal have started a lot better than the first half though. Bruno wastefully slices the ball over the bar on the edge of the box.

50 minsThe Villarreal players must have had a stern telling off at the break, because they've done more this half than the whole of the first 45 in terms of attacking. They have a corner, after a nice spin in behind from Cani forces the set piece. However, it comes to nothing.

53 minsCHANCE! Chances at both end as Villa forces Asenjo into a smart save one end before Joan Roman narrowly fails to get his head on a great ball into the box on the penalty spot for Villarreal

55 minsCHANCE! Better from Villarreal, but Trigueros perhaps should have done better. He gets the ball 30 yards from goal and has options both sides, but chooses to shoot. Perhaps should have slid in either teammate.

58 minsVillarreal haven't exactly been battering the door down, but you get the feeling Atletico may need a second here. A draw could be catastrophic to their title hopes.

59 minsVillarreal haven't been hammering at the door, but you get the feeling Atletico will need a second goal here. A draw could be catastrophic to their title hopes.

61 minsSUBSTITUTION David Villa's afternoon is over. He comes off for Adrian.

63 minsNice early touch from the sub, he back-heels it to Diego, but the playmaker is brought down before he can play the spinning striker in over the top

65 minsSUBSTITUTION Aquino on for Joan Roman as Villarreal make their first change.

68 minsDiego Simeone is furiously trying to rouse the crowd and in-turn, his players. He sense this game could sneak away from them if they don't wake up. As mentioned there's little in way of chances for the visitors, but a one-goal lead is always precarious when you're not dominating.

69 minsVilla's withdrawal has hampered Altetico's goal threat no doubt. They seem to content to sit in and keep what they have. It's a risky tactic...

71 minsCHANCE! Villarreal's best chance. It's Perbet who dips inside on the edge of the box and curls the ball beyond Courtois onto the roof of the net. Nevery moments for Atleti.

72 minsBOOKING! Raul Garcia goes in the book.

74 minsSUBSTITUTION Diego's race is run. Sosa comes on in his place.

76 minsNot a whole lot happening at the moment, but that is to Atleti's liking. Felipe keeps it well on the left, and the ball eventually reaches Adrian with his back to goal, but he can't get control of it inside the box.

77 minsStill not much at either end. Atletico are using their know how to see the game through. Still plenty of time though for the visitors...

78 minsThe ball reaches Tiago around 30 yards out, but the midfielder's shot goes well wide. He never really got hold of it there.

80 minsTiago frees Felipe with a lovely clipped ball down the left and the full-backs cross evades everyone before Mario Suarez concedes a free kick wide right. The ball was exactly where they wanted it until that foul, and Suarez has gone in the book for it.

80 minsTen minutes left here, and as drab as this game has been, they are crucial moments for Atletico and their title charge. Cani is off for Moi Gomez has Villarreal roll the dice late on.

82 minsNervy moments as Godin hacks away a cross for a corner...

83 minsIt's a poor delivery though and Atleti come away with it with Koke. The ball is now with Asenjo as the visitors begin another attack...

85 minsThis is the kind of situation that will see Atletico's mettle tested, but you feel as though they have the right kind of mentality to survive.

86 minsWe're inside the last five minutes now. The Calderon is in full voice as they try to get their team over the line in the final few moments. Tiago holds onto to possession well in midfield before passing it out of play when trying to free Adrian.

89 minsCHANCE! It's a lovely ball across the face of goal from Perbet and no one is there to get the crucial touch. What an inviting ball that was!

90 minsIt's great play from Mario Suarez, picks the ball up and takes it 20 yards before realeasing Adrian with a wonderful ball out wide. Totally took the pressure off his side there, well done.

90+1 minsThere will be three minutes of added time.

90+3 minsSimeone is wildly trying to get the fans in full voice as the game enters its final throes. It seems to be working too. Atletico look safe here. Big big win if so.

4.50pmFULL TIME Atletico Madrid 1-0 Villarreal

4.52pmSimeone celebrates that game as though his team have already won the league, and who could blame him? His team did not play well at all, but three points will see them extend the advantage ahead of tonight's games involving Barcelona and Real Madrid. Barca kick off against struggling Real Betis at 5pm, while Madrid travel to Real Sociedad tonight.

4.54pmWell, that's all from me. It was hardly a classic, but I hope you enjoyed the commentary none the less. Until next time, bye for now.

Atletico Madrid's Portuguese midfielder Tiago Mendes (L) vies with Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta (C) during the Spanish league football match on January 11, 2014
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