Atletico Madrid produced one of their best performances of the season to thrash Real Valladolid 3-0 on Saturday, with Memphis Depay making his debut.
The Dutch forward, signed from Barcelona on Friday, came off the bench in the second half but by then Antoine Griezmann’s virtuoso display had the hosts in full control at the Metropolitano.
The French forward produced a sublime assist for Alvaro Morata to open the scoring and then struck the second himself.
Mario Hermoso netted the third from the rebound after his header from Griezmann’s free-kick was parried back into his path.
Those three goals in an 11-minute spell in the first half wrapped up the points for fourth-placed Atletico.
Diego Simeone’s team have endured a tough season both in the league and also in Europe, where they were eliminated, but earned a second win in seven league games to get heading back in the right direction.
On Thursday they face rivals Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, important both as a derby but also their last realistic chance of silverware this season.
Invigorated by the cup draw and Depay’s arrival, Atletico started brilliantly.
Griezmann’s stunning back-flick played in Morata, who cut inside and drilled home at the near post.
Five minutes later Griezmann doubled Atletico’s lead, blasting home Nahuel Molina’s cross.
Hermoso’s third was validated after a long VAR check and Atletico spurned chances to increase their winning margin after the break.
Angel Correa hit both posts with one shot, while Yannick Carrasco twice came close.
The victory brings Atletico within 10 points of leaders Barcelona, albeit having played two extra games.
The Catalans host Getafe on Sunday, while second place Real Madrid travel to face Athletic Bilbao.
Real Sociedad, third, beat Rayo Vallecano 2-0 earlier Saturday.