Skip to main content

Miranda and Costa fire Atletico to La Liga victory over Elche

updated 5:12 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Diego Costa celebrates after scoring in Atletico Madrid's victory over Elche.
Diego Costa celebrates after scoring in Atletico Madrid's victory over Elche.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Atletico Madrid move seven points clear at top of La Liga after victory over Elche
  • Goals from Joao Miranda and Diego Costa seal 2 - 0 win at Vincente Calderon
  • Atleti can now lift first title in 18 years with victory in next three La Liga matches

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Atletico Madrid overcame struggling Elche at the Vicente Calderon on Friday and moved a step closer to the club's first La Liga title in 18 years.

Brazillian defender Joao Miranda rose at the far post to power home a header midway through the second half before Diego Costa scored an injury time penalty to seal a closely fought 2-0 victory.

Atletico now requires three wins from its remaining four fixtures to claim the La Liga title.

"It was a very open and dangerous match," Atletico manager, Diego Simeone, told reporters in his post match press conference.

"We could not find space in the first half and they took chances on the break to create danger. Our attitude changed in the second half, the intensity increased and from persistence came the prize."

While pleased with the result, the Argentine coach will hope for a more convincing performance in his side's next fixture against Chelsea in the semifinal of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Atleti struggled to break down their well-organized opponents all night and had to withstand a period of Elche pressure before Costa sealed victory in the 90th minute.

Sturridge's World Cup dream
Platini: Goal line technology too expensive
Zidane and Ronaldo tackle poverty

A pedestrian first half produced few chances for either side with Atletico failing to register a single shot on target.

At the other end, Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had to be alert to make a smart save from Elche defender Cristian Sapunaru's header.

Atleti brought on midfielder Raul Garcia at the start of the second period to offer an aerial threat going forward and the tactic almost paid immediate dividends.

Garcia was brought down as he attacked a high-ball into the Elche box by the retreating Sapunaru.

Referee Carlos Clos Gomez pointed to the spot but David Villa couldn't convert as he fired weakly at Elche keeper Manu Herrera.

Ateltico didn't let the penalty miss effect them and kept pressing their opponents with a greater intensity than they had done in the first period.

The breakthrough came in the 71st minute as Miranda climbed highest at the back post, directing a header back across goal and beyond Herrera who stood rooted to the spot.

Elche, themselves seeking points as they attempt to move away from the relegation area, pressed forward in search of an equalizer but were caught on the break in injury time.

Diego Costa burst through and was nudged in the back as he was about to shoot by Sapunaru who gave away his second penalty of the game and was shown a straight red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity.

Costa stepped up to take the spot kick and sent the diving Herrera the wrong way.

Atletico now stand atop the La Liga table on 85 points, six ahead of second placed Real Madrid and seven clear of reigning champions Barcelona.

The Catalans can close the gap at the top of the table to four points with victory at home to fourth placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

They will have to do so without the services of Neymar, however, after the Brazilian striker was ruled out for at least four weeks with a metatarsal injury on Friday.

Barcelona have suffered a dreadful few weeks, exiting the Champions League at the quarter final stage for the first time in six seasons, losing ground in La Liga after defeat at Granada and falling to defeat at the hands Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey final on Wednesday.

Real Madrid do not play this weekend after taking the option to postpone their match against Real Vallodolid in order to prepare for Wednesday's Champions League semifinal first leg clash with Bayern Munich.

Read: Manchester City tops wage bill survey

Read: The tragedy that united a city

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT