Villa scores double as Atletico bounces back vs. Celta
MAR 08, 2014 4:34p ET
With Barcelona having suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat at Real Valladolid earlier in the day and Real Madrid not in action until Sunday, Diego Simeone's side headed into the game at Balaidos knowing a win would put them at the summit.
The first half was a lacklustre affair but a different Atletico emerged for the second period and two goals in two minutes just after the hour mark from former Barca striker Villa sent Los Rojiblancos top - above Real on head-to-head record.
Chances were few and far between in the early exchanges, with both sides largely limited to wayward long-range attempts.
Celta goalkeeper Yoel was called upon to parry a Koke blast in the 25th minute and a Diego Ribas volley soon after, while Charles saw Celta's best opportunity of the first half blocked by Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois four minutes before the interval.
Yoel did well to deny Filipe Luis 13 minutes after the restart, but the deadlock was broken soon after when Villa latched onto a sloppy back-pass and coolly slotted the ball under the Celta goalkeeper.
Ninety seconds later Atletico doubled their advantage when substitute Jose Sosa produced the perfect low cross for Villa, who took a touch to control before despatching a clinical finish into the bottom-left corner - his 13th goal in La Liga this term.
Luis Enrique's side never looked like getting back in the game, and could even have gone further behind in stoppage time were it not for a smart save from Yoel after Cristian Rodriguez had found time and space for a left-footed shot.