Joao Felix scored twice in his first match back from injury as Atletico Madrid routed Osasuna 5-0 on Wednesday to end their winless streak and regain fourth place in the Spanish league.
Felix scored a goal in each half to lead Atletico to their first win after three consecutive league draws. The Portugal forward had been nursing a sprained left knee and had not played since the league resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Marcos Llorente, Alvaro Morata and Yannick Carrasco also scored for Atletico, which had dropped outside the Champions League places following its slump.
“We needed this victory to boost the team’s morale,” Felix said. “And it was important for me as well, to give me more confidence. After three months without playing and after the injury, it was good to return with a pair of goals.”
Diego Simeone's team eliminated defending champion Liverpool in the round of 16 of the Champions League just before the pandemic break, but it had won only two of its last nine league games. It hadn't won any of its last five away matches in the league.
The victory kept Atletico 15 points behind leader Barcelona — which defeated Leganés 2-0 on Tuesday — but moved the team two points behind third-place Sevilla, which drew 1-1 at Levante on Monday. Real Sociedad can get past Atletico again for fourth place if it wins at Alavés on Thursday.
“That’s our goal right now, to keep fighting for the Champion League places so we can be in the tournament again next season,” Felix said.
Atletico is 10 points behind second-place Real Madrid ahead of its rival’s home game against Valencia on Thursday.
Felix, who arrived from Benfica amid high expectations in the offseason as a replacement to Antoine Griezmann, controlled the action for Atletico early on. He opened the scoring with a powerful right-foot shot into the top of the net in the 27th minute after picking up a loose ball inside the area. His second goal came from close range in the 56th after a pass from Diego Costa.
It was Felix's first double with Atletico, giving him eight goals this season.
LLorente scored in the 79th, Morata in the 82nd and Carrasco in the 88th.
Morata's goal was initially disallowed for offside but the decision was overturned by video review.
Osasuna, which had drawn at Real Sociedad in its first match after the break, stayed in 11th place.
Large banners with photos of Osasuna fans covered the stands at the empty El Sadar Stadium.
Atletico next hosts Valladolid, while Osasuna visits Valencia.
Forward Iago Aspas squandered a 71st-minute penalty as Celta Vigo drew 0-0 at Valladolid to remain winless after the break and stay near the relegation zone.
Athletic Bilbao followed up its home draw against Atletico with a 2-2 draw at Eibar, missing a chance to move closer to the European places.