Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Betis
Barcelona (AFP) - Atletico Madrid’s rejuvenated Antoine Griezmann hit a brace, including one goal direct from a corner, to earn his team a 2-1 win at Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday.
After a dour first half the game burst into life in the second, with the hosts having a goal disallowed before Griezmann continued his excellent form with a double.
Nabil Fekir pulled a goal back for Betis in the 84th minute with a sublime free-kick, creating a tense finale but Diego Simeone’s side held out for the three points, moving third, while Betis are provisionally fifth.
Griezmann, who netted the winner against Athletic Bilbao and set up a goal for Alvaro Morata in his team’s last two games, broke the deadlock in the 54th minute in spectacular fashion.
The French forward, who recently made his loan move from Barcelona to Atletico permanent, whipped a corner in, narrowly over Saul’s head, with the ball dipping in at the far post despite Betis defender German Pezzella’s best efforts.
The second soon followed, teed up by substitute Matheus Cunha, Griezmann squeezed a strike past goalkeeper Rui Silva at his near post, who might have done more to keep it out.
“I wanted to put (the corner) in with a tight angle, hard, and in the end there was a bit of luck too,” Griezmann told Movistar.
“I told the referee I had never scored a goal from a corner, I’m very happy.
“I’m trying to do everything I can to improve and help the team as much as I can. Working defensively and providing goals and assists. I’ll try to keep it going.”
- Climbing the rankings -
Griezmann, who started the season being used as a substitute as Atletico tried to avoid an obligatory appearance clause in the Barcelona loan deal, before striking a permanent agreement for him, now has 147 goals for the club.
Overtaking Paco Campos, who bagged 146 goals in the 1940s, Griezmann is the third highest scorer in Atletico history, and is only 25 strikes short of matching Luis Aragones’ all-time club record.
Luis Henrique fired over for Betis on the half-hour mark, in an opening period short on action, with Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak also denying Borja Iglesias and keeping out an Andres Guardado free-kick.
The second half was a different beast, with Henrique seeing an early strike disallowed for offside against Iglesias in the build-up, before Griezmann netted twice.
Juan Cruz should have pulled one back for Betis but shot wildly over when the ball dropped to him in the box, before Fekir’s succulent free-kick from the edge of the box gave his team a lifeline.
Alex Moreno rattled Oblak’s crossbar with a header in stoppage time and Atletico survived a penalty appeal immediately after against Reinildo Mandava for handball, as William Carvalho had fouled him.
Earlier bottom of the table Elche rescued a point at Espanyol in a 2-2 draw thanks to a late strike from Gonzalo Verdu.
The visitors had gone ahead through a fine Pere Milla header but Javi Puado levelled and former Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite sent Espanyol ahead.
Verdu’s 82nd-minute goal salvaged a point for Jorge Almiron’s side but they remain without a victory from the first 11 games, with only four points.
Later Sunday Barcelona host Athletic Bilbao as they look to keep pressure on league leaders Real Madrid, who beat Sevilla on Saturday, among other games.