Liga leaders Atletico Madrid moved three points clear with a 2-0 win at third-placed Real Sociedad on Tuesday thanks to second-half goals from Mario Hermoso and Marcos Llorente.
The game failed to live up to its billing in a drab first half but Atleti broke the deadlock early in the second when defender Hermoso headed in Yannick Carrasco’s floated free kick.
The visitors, without record signing Joao Felix who stayed in the team hotel after feeling ill, added to their lead with a vicious strike from Llorente after a lay-off from Luis Suarez.
Sociedad welcomed back playmaker David Silva from injury but did not manage a shot on target until Atletico keeper Jan Oblak tipped a Martin Merquelanz free kick around the post late on.
Atleti, who recorded their 300th win in 499 games in all competitions under manager Diego Simeone, have 32 points from 13 games ahead of second-placed Real Madrid who have played 14 and host Granada on Wednesday.
“We knew how important this game was and what it would mean to win it and keep a clean sheet,” said Hermoso.
“We keep fighting in every game, demanding so much of overselves and overcoming difficulties. It might look easy from the outside but it isn’t.”
Sociedad, who had led the standings for most of the season until their recent slide, slumped to a third straight league defeat and have now not won in their last nine matches in all competitions.
A victory would have seen them go level on points with Atletico but instead they trail Simeone’s side by six and have played three games more.