Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix scored two goals and was in the thick of the action as his side beat Osasuna 3-1 away on Saturday for a third consecutive La Liga victory. The Portugal striker missed an open goal in the early stages of the game before giving his side the lead at the end of the first half from the penalty spot but then squandered a spot-kick at the start of the second period, hitting the post.
The 126-million-euro (113 million pounds) player soon made amends by getting Atleti’s second, blasting into the top corner to complete a sensational counterattack and score for the fourth time in two games after his double in Tuesday’s 3-2 Champions League win over RB Salzburg.
Osasuna did manage to strike back with a header from substitute Ante Budimir with 10 minutes to go but Atletico soaked up the pressure well and clinched the points with a late strike from Lucas Torreira, who superbly controlled a cross from Kieran Trippier on his thigh before smashing into the roof of the net.
The victory took unbeaten Atletico up to third in the standings on 14 points, two behind leaders Real Madrid who beat Huesca 4-1 earlier on Saturday but have played one game more.
With his side facing a long journey to play Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday, Atletico coach Diego Simeone opted to rest Luis Suarez and partner Angel Correa with Felix, as Diego Costa was still out injured.
Playing without a traditional striker led to Atletico playing with more fluidity than usual and they were particularly dangerous on the counterattack, with Correa and Vitolo both spurning chances to score the second before Felix struck.
“We had more space and we came up with a lot of different ways to attack,” said Simeone. “I’m always looking for ways to find the consistency and balance that allows us to attack well, as we are right now, and to defend well, as we always do.”
The coach also praised Felix, who has hit form after a stop-start first campaign since joining Atletico from Benfica last year for a club-record fee.
“We saw last year what he was capable of on various occasions but the difference is now he is being consistent and is seeing the fruits of working hard,” he said.
Also on Saturday, Athletic Bilbao came from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 at home with two late goals, inflicting a third consecutive league defeat on Julen Lopetegui’s side.