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Morata already repaying Atletico's faith

China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-17 10:46
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Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata in Getafe, Spain, Aug 15, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

MADRID-The decision to keep Alvaro Morata is already paying off for Atletico Madrid.

Morata scored twice on Monday as Atletico began its Spanish league campaign with a 3-0 win at Getafe. Antoine Griezmann also scored coming off the bench, with Joao Felix setting up all three goals for the visitor.

There had been doubts about whether Atletico would keep Morata after his two-year loan with Juventus ended. Some teams, including Juve and Manchester United, had reportedly shown interest in the forward.

But Morata impressed in the preseason-which included a hat-trick against Juventus - and Atletico ultimately decided it was worth keeping the 29-year-old striker.

"I don't need to send any messages," Morata said. "I have to keep working for myself and for my team. It was important to start with a victory. I think it's going to be a great year."

It didn't take long on Monday for Morata to show Atletico was right. He scored with a well-placed low shot from the top of the area after a nice one-touch pass by Felix in the 15th minute, then picked up another superb assist from the Portugal youngster to hit the top of the net from inside the area in the 59th.

"He is doing well, he works hard," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "Everyone at the club hopes he will stay with us."

Griezmann came off the bench and sealed the victory with a shot from outside the area in the 75th.

Atletico finished third in the Spanish league last year, behind Barcelona and champion Real Madrid.

Madrid won 2-1 at promoted Almeria on Sunday, while Barcelona drew 0-0 at home against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Betis rout

Real Betis opened with a comfortable 3-0 win against Elche at home despite not being able to use several of its new signings because of the league's salary-cap regulations.

Juanmi Jimenez scored twice and Borja Iglesias added another for the host, who played with an extra man from the 16th minute after Elche midfielder John Chetauya was sent off with a straight red card.

Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini could not count on players like Claudio Bravo, Willian Jose and Joaquin Sanchez because of the team's salary-cap problems.

Seville-based Betis is coming off a great season in which it won the Copa del Rey and finished fifth in the Spanish league.

Elche finished 13th last season.

Bilbao held

Athletic Bilbao was held at home to a 0-0 draw against Mallorca in the return of coach Ernesto Valverde to the Basque club.

Athletic dominated from the start but could not capitalize on its scoring chances. The host had more than 20 attempts at San Mames Stadium.

Valverde, who hadn't coached since leaving Barcelona in 2020, is back for his third stint at Athletic's helm.

The Basque club finished only eighth last season, missing out on the European competitions. Mallorca barely escaped relegation, finishing just one point above the drop zone.

Agencies via Xinhua

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