La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid proved their title credentials yet again by beating in-form Sevilla 2-0 at home on Tuesday to stride four points clear at the top of the standings.
Atletico got off to an ideal start when Angel Correa received a pass from returning right back Kieran Trippier and took Sevilla by surprise with a shot which bounced in off the near post to give them the lead in the 17th minute.
Midfielder Saul Niguez effectively clinched the victory with a thumping effort from the edge of the area in the 76th to score his first goal of the season and condemn Sevilla to a first defeat in 10 games in all competitions.
The victory took Atletico on to 41 points after 16 games -- their most since collecting 43 over the same stretch in their 2013-14 title-winning season -- four clear of second-placed Real Madrid who have played 18.
"We knew we would have to suffer in certain moments in the game but they didn't cause us too much danger, they had a lot of possession but couldn't harm us," said goalscorer Correa.
"We prepare for every game in order to win it and that's what we're trying to do. We knew Sevilla would be difficult opponents, they are having a great season, so I'm very happy we managed to win."
Atletico had enjoyed a rest over the weekend as their match with Athletic Bilbao had been postponed due to a snowstorm in the Spanish capital, although the freezing conditions had also disrupted their training schedule.
The home side welcomed back Trippier for the first time since Dec. 23 after his 10-week suspension for breaking betting rules in England was put on hold pending an appeal and the England defender proved his value by playing a big part in both goals.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone opted to start €126 million forward Joao Felix on the bench for the second game in a row in favour of Correa and the Argentine repaid his faith with an enterprising shot from the edge of the area, flummoxing Sevilla keeper Bono.
Sevilla had won seven of their previous nine matches and did not make things easy for Simeone's side, firing 13 shots at goal to Atletico's five although only managing to work Atletico keeper Jan Oblak twice.
They spurned a golden chance to level when Argentine Marcos Acuna missed the target on the rebound while Oblak was on the floor, while forward Youssef En-Nesyri also squandered a good opportunity late in the second half.
Sevilla keeper Bono pulled off an impressive save to prevent Luis Suarez doubling Atletico's lead and even after Saul had scored the second, the visitors continued to look for a goal until the final whistle came.