Madrid: French striker Antoine Griezmann scored just moments after coming off the bench to lead the hosts to a crucial 1-0 La Liga victory over Rayo Vallecano.
It was kept out of Atletico Madrid’s starting line-up here on Saturday to keep him fresh for Champions League semifinal action next week, reports Efe.
It was Grizzi’s 30th goal across all competitions in the 2015-2016 season, the most prolific of the 25-year-old’s career.
The French international might have stayed on the bench had Atletico been more opportunistic in the early going, but they failed to capitalise on a couple of mistakes by Rayo in the first 10 minutes of the contest.
Defender Antonio Amaya slipped and allowed forward Luciano Vietto to take possession close to the penalty area on one play, while on the other there was miscommunication between Rayo goalkeeper Juan Carlos and defender Diego Llorente.
Argentine striker Angel Correa had chances to score both times, but was unable to connect.
Atletico, coached Saturday evening at Vicente Calderon stadium by German Burgos, who was replacing the suspended Diego Simeone, sent out just four of their starting 11 from Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions semi-finals.
Several of those substitutions were in midfield, an area of the field where Atletico struggled early on with Rayo’s pressure.
Atletico Madrid countered with some long passing.
Rayo kept applying pressure at the start of the second half, forcing goalkeeper Jan Oblak clear one cross by Quini with his fists.
But Fernando Torres and Griezmann changed the complexion of the match when they came on in the 53rd minute.
With the win, Atletico Madrid temporarily remained second in the tandings with 85 points, just behind leaders FC Barcelona on goal difference.