Atletico Madrid struggled a bit in the first half but pulled away from relegation battlers Celta Vigo thanks to three second half goals. The win inches Atletico one step closer to securing third place and an automatic spot in next season's Champions League group stages.
Despite the lack of goals in the first half it was still an interesting 45 minutes of play. Celta Vigo looked like a team that realized they desperately need three points -- which makes sense -- and were determined to take the game to Atletico. For the most part they did using am effective high pressure system that prevented Atleti from being able to pass the ball around in space between their various dangerous attacking options.
Celta were also exceptionally quick on the counter attack, especially on the left side where long balls over the top to Michael Krohn-Dehli led to a couple dangerous opportunities. Celta's best chance by the far though came in the 38th minute when Borja Oubiña nearly scored on a goal-mouth scramble but was denied by an excellent charge down by the Atleti defense.
Any chance of Celta settling back into their effective first half system was blown up just two minutes into the second half when Miranda flicked on a corner at the near post across the face of goal where it was headed into the empty net by Diego Costa. There was nothing Javi Varas could do as he was relying on his defenders to cover the far post and they failed to keep the striker out of the space.
Celta Vigo missed a fantastic chance to equalize in the 55th minute after Thibaut Courtois left a massive rebound off a Augusto Fernández shot. The ball went right to Michael Krohn-Dehli who sent his header horribly off target as he stared longingly at a wide open net.
Diego Costa was in the middle of Atletico's second goal in the 66th minute, one touching the ball at the top of the Celta area to Juanfran whose shot from distance eluded Varas and put the game out of reach for Os Celestes.
Celta did pull a goal back with six minutes left to play after Courtois badly misplayed a fairly pedestrian attempt from Fernández and allowed the ball to trickle across the goal line.
Os Celestes dreams of a comeback were quickly squashed two minutes later by Radamel Falcao who dispossessed Celta in the box and fired a shot over Varas to make it 3-1.
Celta now face an even bigger uphill battle to avoid relegation and must refocus quickly for their trip to Real Betis over the weekend.