MADRID (AP) Antoine Griezmann is keeping alive Atletico Madrid’s hopes of a Spanish league title challenge.
The France forward scored an impressive goal and helped set up two others as Atletico comfortably defeated Celta Vigo 3-0 on Sunday to keep pace with league leader Barcelona.
Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Angel Correa also scored for Atletico at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.
The team’s 10th win in 11 matches in all competitions kept second-place Atletico eight points behind Barcelona with 10 matches left. The Catalan club beat last-place Malaga 2-0 on Saturday despite playing without Lionel Messi because of the birth of his third son, Ciro.
Atletico’s only recent setback was a 1-0 loss at Barcelona in the previous round.
“There is still a lot of league left,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “We are focusing on each match. I want to reach the final five rounds with chances. Then we will see what happens.”
Griezmann has been decisive for Atletico. He scored his eighth goal in five matches after a neat move inside the area just before halftime. The Frenchman cleared two Celta players by faking a shot near the goal, then sent the ball into the top far corner to open the scoring at the Metropolitano.
Griezmann, who has previously been linked with a move to Barcelona or Manchester United, then set up Vitolo’s goal with a well-placed throughball inside the area in the 56th, and he also started the play that led to Correa’s final goal a few minutes later.
“The reality is that today Griezmann is with us and he has been playing fantastically,” Simeone said. “Tomorrow is another day.”
Real Madrid stayed in third place by defeating Eibar 2-1 on Saturday with a pair of goals by Cristiano Ronaldo, while fourth-place Valencia remained a point behind Madrid by winning 2-0 at Sevilla with two goals by striker Rodrigo.
Sevilla stayed fifth but 11 points behind Valencia in the fight for a Champions League spot next season. Sevilla plays at Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday in the last-16 second leg. The teams drew 0-0 in Sevilla in the first leg.
Celta stayed ninth with the loss, its second in three matches.
Villarreal took a step toward securing a Europa League spot by defeating Las Palmas 2-0 with second-half goals by Carlos Bacca and Nicola Sansone.
The win moved Villarreal to sixth place, one point behind Sevilla and a point ahead of Girona.