Luis Suarez sent Atletico Madrid 10 points clear at the top of La Liga on Sunday by scoring a sensational free-kick and then a penalty in a pulsating 4-2 win over Cadiz.
Atletico’s victory puts their lead at the top of the table into double figures and it could get even worse for the chasing pack, given Diego Simeone’s side still have a game in hand.
Real Madrid remain closest despite their defeat by Levante on Saturday while Barcelona are now 13 points back, although they could reduce the gap when they play at home to Athletic Bilbao later on Sunday.
Both would have been given hope by a rousing display from newly-promoted Cadiz, who were inspired by the relentless Alvaro Negredo.
The 35-year-old scored twice, could have had a hat-trick and certainly did not deserve to be on the losing side.
But Suarez’s double, between goals from Saul Niguez and Koke late on, sealed another three points for Atletico, who now have the La Liga crown within their grasp, even with half of the season left to play.
Suarez was their driving force yet again, his two goals making it nine in his last eight games and 14 for the season.
His goals and assists have now earned Atletico 12 extra points in the league, with Barcelona’s decision to let him leave, and join title rivals, seeming more misjudged by the week.
Atletico took the lead in the 35th minute after the marauding Joao Felix was brought down a few yards outside the penalty area.
Suarez stepped up and sent a superb shot, curling into the left-hand corner.
Cadiz rallied and then capitalised on some lethargic Atletico defending as Negredo was too strong for Thomas Lemar on the right of the area after Felipe had failed to cover.
Negredo whipped a left-footed shot into the far corner of Jan Oblak’s net.
Atletico edged ahead again when Saul’s touch from Lemar’s cross looped, seemingly inadvertently, over Jeremias Ledesma and in before Cadiz had a penalty, Koke’s hand touching the ball only for VAR to prompt the referee to rule it out.
Cadiz’s frustration was compounded by Atletico being awarded a penalty three minutes after half-time, Marcos Lopez clattering Lemar and Suarez making no mistake.
Fali Jimenez almost pulled one back for Cadiz but his mishit cross dropped onto the crossbar and then Negredo did, his scuffed finish bobbling in with 20 minutes left after Atletico failed to clear.
Negredo was on a mission. He rose high to meet Fali’s cross but headed straight into the hands of Oblak and then nodded over for Saponjic, who looked certain to head in from five yards but Oblak was there again.
All hope was extinguished in the 88th minute when Angel Correa, on as a substitute scuttled onto a loose ball and squared for Koke to tap in a fourth.
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