Antoine Griezmann kickstarted Atletico Madrid’s La Liga campaign with two goals and an assist as a 4-0 rout at Celta Vigo gave them a much-needed boost on Saturday.
It was their first win of the current La Liga season after being held by promoted Alaves and Leganes in their opening two league games.
And they were outplayed for the first-half in Vigo on Saturday too, as Josep Sense and Theo Bongonda missed great chances.
But Atletico’s luck turned when Koke met Griezmann’s fine cross eight minutes into the second-half to give the visitors the lead before Euro 2016’s top scorer Griezmann headed home his first two goals of the season in the final 20 minutes.
Angel Correa added a fourth two minutes from time.
Champions Barcelona and Real Madrid will attempt to continue their 100 percent starts to the season at home to Alaves and Osasuna respectively later on Saturday.
In an uncharacteristic outburst Griezmann claimed Atletico would be “fighting against relegation” rather than challenging Barca and Madrid for the title if they continued to play like in their opening two games after a 0-0 stalemate at Leganes two weeks ago.
However, he apologised for those comments after coming alive in the second-half in Vigo.
“We needed a game like this,” Griezmann told BeINSports Spain.
“I apologise, I shouldn’t have said what I did publicly. It was in the heat of the moment, but I am very happy with what we did as a team today.
“I am still getting back into my rhythm (after the Euros) and still have a way to go, but I am giving my all and I’m very happy to get the goals and the assist.”
Celta are still to pick up a point this season after finishing sixth last term, but just as in losing out narrowly to Real Madrid two weeks ago, they again paid for not taking their chances in a promising first-half.
Sense fired into the side-netting after bursting through the Atletico defence and rounding Jan Oblak just nine minutes in.
Bongonda’s pace was also causing Diego Simeone’s men serious problems and the Belgian should have opened the scoring when he dragged his shot wide with just Oblak to beat.
Griezmann took charge after the break first with a brilliant in-swinging cross for Koke to slot home the opener with Atletico’s first shot on goal.
Yannick Carrasco had claims for a penalty waived away and Kevin Gameiro somehow fired wide with an open goal to aim at as Atletico grew in confidence.
However, it was Griezmann who sealed the points with a towering header from Saul Niguez’s cross.
Griezmann added his second of the afternoon with another headed effort 10 minutes from time before Correa fired home at the near post to seal a second-half rout. – Agence France-Presse