02.04.2019 21:54 h

Atletico scrape past Girona ahead of Barcelona test

Atletico Madrid needed late goals from Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann to beat Girona 2-0 on Tuesday and boost morale ahead of Saturday's top of the table clash against Barcelona.

Barca kicked off against Villarreal shortly after the final whistle blew at the Wanda Metropolitano and a win for the Catalans would mean the gap between them and Atletico stands at 10 points heading into this weekend's match at the Camp Nou.

It would take an unthinkable collapse for Ernesto Valverde's side not to be lifting the La Liga trophy on May 19 but Atletico will at least face their rivals with some sense of stability restored.

After a disastrous week last month that saw them crash out of the Champions League and then drop out of the title race, Atleti have registered consecutive wins over Alaves and now Girona, who drop to 13th.

They had VAR to thank for Godin's opener, the Argentinian's header allowed to stand after Griezmann had initially been ruled offside. Griezmann then added a second in injury-time.

Both scorers have been among those linked with departures at the end of the season, even if Atletico's president Enrique Cerezo insisted this week that Griezmann would not be signing for Barcelona.

The Frenchman could have been playing on the opposite team this weekend and, perhaps, celebrating a title triumph next month, but instead he opted to stay with Atleti last summer. He will be in the spotlight again on Saturday.

After a dreadful start to the year, Girona have picked up in recent weeks and they frustrated Atletico for 75 minutes with a committed and well-organised display.

They might have taken the lead in the first half but Seydou Doumbia's header was straight at Jan Oblak, before Koke hit the crossbar at the other end with a long-range effort.

Alvaro Morata had some good openings on the break but took too long and it needed Godin to break the deadlock, heading in after Gorka Iraizoz failed to clear under pressure from Griezmann, who was ruled onside by VAR.

Griezmann then made sure of the win four minutes into injury-time as Vitolo, on as a substitute, sent his team-mate clear. A brilliant chip looped over Iraizoz and into the net.