Madrid (AFP) – Angel Correa came off the bench to score one and make another as Atletico Madrid climbed back into the La Liga’s top four with a 2-1 win at Real Betis on Sunday.

The red-and-white half of Madrid were in the doldrums after a home defeat to Barcelona a month ago but have since qualified for the Champions League last-16 where they can savour the chance of measuring themselves against Liverpool, and have now climbed back into the Liga reckoning.

European champions Liverpool travel to Madrid in February for their Champions League match and will have noted the combativity and commitment inspired by Atletico’s feisty Argentine coach Diego Simeone.

“Correa showed what he’s made of today, we’ve been training him hard. He put on good pressure to get the first goal and a nice pass for the second,” said Simeone.

“But I was just as pleased to see him fighting for the win right at the end, when the team needed him.” 

It might have been sunny and warm in the southern Spanish town Seville where Betis play but Christmas was in the air as fans threw thousand of toys onto the pitch for local charities.

The goals all came after the break as second-half sub Correa came on for struggling France international Thomas Lemar on 56 minutes and scored with his first touch of the game to set Atletico on the road to a third straight win.

Former Real Madrid, Juventus and Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata gave Atletico a 2-0 lead late on before a stoppage time consolation strike for the home fans came from Marc Bartra.

It also ended five straight away draws for Atletico, who have managed just 20 goals in the first half of the season since they sold star striker Antoine Griezmann to Barca in the summer.