Atletico extend lead over rivals
Last Updated: 13/01/13 9:23pm
Tiago heads Atletico into the lead
Atletico Madrid extended their advantage over third-placed Real Madrid to seven points with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Real Zaragoza at the Vicente Calderon.
After a dominant opening spell, Tiago eventually headed Atleti in front on the half-hour mark as he rose highest to nod home Gabi's corner.
Radamel Falcao then added the second from the penalty spot seven minutes before the break after Arda Turan was brought down by Cristian Sapunaru.
And despite failing to build on their advantage, the hosts comfortably saw out the second period without any major scares.
Atleti have now won 16 consecutive games at home - a run stretching back to the end of last season - and there was never any danger of conceding a 100 per cent record at the Calderon against a flaccid Zaragoza side who appeared to be completely devoid of any self-belief.
Roberto was called into action after only two minutes to prevent Diego Godin opening the scoring from the edge of the area and the Zaragoza keeper made an even better save five minutes later, forcing Falcao out wide before trapping his weak effort after he had been beautifully played in by Tiago.
Diego Costa was also denied the simple task of heading in the opener from Falcao's cross by a crucial interception from Roberto, but it was only a matter of time before the goal came as Tiago got in front of his marker to flick home Gabi's corner at the near post.
Miranda should then have doubled the lead from another Gabi corner when he miscued at the back post, but Diego Simeone's men were handed another chance to extend their advantage when Arda turned Sapunaru and was brought down by the Romanian inside the area.
Falcao stepped up and converted his seventh penalty from seven attempts this season with a thunderous finish high down the middle of the goal.
Roberto continued to keep the score down after the break as he parried Arda's powerfully-struck shot from distance before Thibaut Courtois was finally forced into his first save of the night by a low drive from Apono just after the hour mark.
Falcao ought to have made it three as he skewed wide after a lovely interchange of passes with Arda 16 minutes from time, with Glenn Loovens summing up the visitors' night up as he nearly scored a comedic own goal after a mix-up with Roberto 10 minutes later.
Zaragoza offered nothing more as an attacking force themselves and a second consecutive league defeat leaves the Aragon club just six points clear of the relegation zone.
Spanish Primera BBVA