Falcao helps Atletico end away-day blues
Atletico Madrid remembered how to win away again when Radamel Falcao opened the scoring in a 3-0 victory at Real Valladolid that cut the gap on La Liga leaders Barcelona back to 12 points on Sunday.
Diego Simeone's side last won on the road in mid-November, when they defeated Granada 1-0, but after consecutive defeats in La Liga and the Europa League they rediscovered their bite to turn over their hosts.
Colombia striker Falcao pounced on a loose ball to score after Diego Godin's volley at a free kick was only parried in the 11th minute. It was his 20th league goal of the season.
Atletico's recent wobble looked to be behind them as they were first to everything and Brazilian striker Diego Costa doubled the lead in the 53rd minute after latching on to a cushioned header from midfielder Koke.
Uruguay winger Cristian Rodriguez grabbed a third at the end when he sneaked in to profit from a poor pass back to the goalkeeper.
Barca's 2-1 comeback win in Granada on Saturday, when Lionel Messi scored twice, put them on 65 points from 24 games, Atletico are second with 53 and Real Madrid third with 46.
The champions host city rivals Rayo Vallecano in the late game.
Earlier, a towering header from Ricardo Costa and a late strike from Roberto Soldado earned 10-man Valencia a 2-0 home win over struggling Real Mallorca that lifted them to fifth.
Valencia, who lost 2-1 at home to Paris St Germain in the Champions League last week, were in trouble after 28 minutes when Tino Costa was sent off for swinging his arm into Tomas Pina.
The pace of Mallorca's Giovani dos Santos was a constant threat but Portugal defender Costa rose at the back post to power a header under the bar from a corner in the 60th minute.
Home keeper Diego Alves kept Mallorca at bay and the hard-working hosts were rewarded when Spain striker Soldado broke free and squeezed a shot under Dudu Aouate nine minutes from time.
Mallorca, second bottom of La Liga, have one win from their last 19 league outings.
Valencia have 40 points, two behind fourth-placed Malaga, who beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 at home on Saturday.
In the midday kickoff, Levante stalled Real Sociedad's push for European football next season by holding them to a 1-1 draw with ten men, both goals coming from first-half penalties.
Carlos Vela gave the Basques the lead and Michel levelled, but Levante hung on despite a second yellow card for defender Nikos Karabelas early in the second period.
Real Sociedad are sixth with 37 points.