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Football: Atletico ease past Valladolid, go back top

Atletico Madrid moved clear at the top of La Liga, for a few hours at least, as two goals inside the first four minutes guided them to a 3-0 win over Valladolid.

MADRID: Atletico Madrid moved clear at the top of La Liga, for a few hours at least, as two goals inside the first four minutes guided them to a 3-0 win over Valladolid.

Raul Garcia opened the scoring from a well-worked free-kick after three minutes before Diego Costa lofted in his 25th goal of the season 60 seconds later.

And Diego Godin rounded off the scoring when he headed home the third 17 minutes from time.

Atletico now lead Barcelona and Real Madrid by three points, but Barca can reclaim top spot when they host Rayo Vallecano later on Saturday.

"The key was the intensity that the players started with. Going 2-0 ahead allowed us to relax and once it went 3-0 even more so," said Atletico boss Diego Simeone.

However, the Argentine continued to play down his side's chances of fighting for the title.

"We continue to go minute by minute. We are happy to be top of the league until eight o'clock this evening, but there is still 14 games to go which is a lot."

After three consecutive defeats in league and Cup it was imperative for Simeone's men to get back to winning ways if they were to maintain their title challenge and they couldn't have made a better start.

Garcia fired home his 10th goal of the campaign from the edge of the area from Gabi's free-kick, and Costa then doubled his side's advantage as he raced onto Koke's ball over the top and lobbed the ball over the advancing Diego Marino.

Atletico then eased off after their initial burst and Valladolid threatened to get back into the game at the start of the second half when Javi Guerra volleyed just over.

Mario Suarez nearly made the game safe when he saw his header come back off the bar from Koke's corner.

However, Atletico did get a third goal from another corner 10 minutes later when Godin headed back across goal into the far corner to leave Marino stranded.

Simeone then had the luxury of replacing Koke and Arda Turan with one eye on their return to Champions League action away to AC Milan as David Villa made his return from injury, suggesting he may be fit to start at the San Siro on Wednesday.

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