David Villa made up for the loss of Diego Costa by firing Atletico Madrid back to La Liga's summit in Saturday's 2-0 win at Celta Vigo.
Costa picked up a controversial yellow card for diving in last week's derby draw with Real Madrid and, although the club attempted to have the decision overturned, the referee’s initial decision was upheld and Villa was left to supply the goods in his absence.
The visitors struggled in the first half as Celta looked solid at the back and relatively threatening in attack, but the title chasers took over and began to dominate after the break.
Villa netted his first in fine fashion in the 62nd minute as he pounced on a dreadful backpass before coolly slotting into the bottom-right corner, and he doubled his tally a couple a couple of minutes later with a tidy finish.
Barcelona's defeat to Real Valladolid earlier in the day gave Atleti the chance to go top for at least one day, with Real playing Levante at home on Sunday.
Following successive away defeats in the league, Atleti coach Diego Simeone conceded his side cannot afford to lose again if they are to continue their title challenge this season and they produced a professional display in Vigo, though they did have things all their own way early on.
Celta enjoyed an encouraging start as Nolito forced Thibaut Courtois to rush off his line and make a last-ditch challenge in the fifth minute, before captain Borja Oubina dragged wide from the edge of the area a few moments later.
Alex Lopez was the next to go close for Celta as he fired just off target after cutting in from the left flank, but Atleti did finally wake up as Raul Garcia hit a half-volley on to the roof of the goal from 40 yards out on the right wing.
Soon after, Villa forced Yoel into a smart 25th-minute save, while Celta were unlucky not to get a penalty on the half-hour mark as Hugo Mallo's powerful strike hit Toby Alderweireld on the arm.
Although both sides appeared to be conservative at the start of the second period, Atleti did worry Yoel in the 51st minute as Garcia's 25-yard effort looked to have been deflected past the goalkeeper, but he reacted quickly to make the save.
As the hour mark approached, Atleti began to look dominant and they deservedly took the lead 62 minutes in.
Villa latched on to Jonny Castro's disastrous backpass attempt, raced through on goal and confidently stroked past the helpless Yoel.
The lead was doubled just two minutes later with Villa once again to thank as he latched onto Jose Sosa's well-placed cut-back and produced a composed finish.
The quickfire double killed off the spirited visitors who remain in mid-table after a first home defeat in eight outings.
|Coach: Luis Enrique|
for F. Orellana 60'
for Charles 68'
for M. Krohn-Dehli 74'
|Argentina 2 El Salvador 0: Mancuello nets debut goal in straightforward win|
|Kovac not satisfied despite Croatia victory|
|Netherlands 1 Turkey 1: Huntelaar spares Hiddink from historic home loss|
|Ghana 1 Senegal 2: Konate brace downs Black Stars|
|Bulgaria 2 Italy 2: Controversial debutant Eder rescues Conte´s men|
|Morocco 0 Uruguay 1: Cavani spot-kick seals win|
|Al Sadd say talks with Xavi ongoing|
|McClean slams Sunderland´s handling of poppy controversy|
|Ghana 1-2 Senegal: Black Stars continue Afcon hangover|
|Cheltenham player diagnosed with cancer|
|Palace takeover talk premature - Parish|
|Odegaard becomes Euro qualifiers´ youngest starter|
|Job not done yet, Bale warns Wales|
|Israel 0 Wales 3: Brilliant Bale bags brace as Wales go top|
|Dunga backs Neymar to overhaul Pele´s Brazil goal record|
|League Two Review: Hartlepool climb out of drop zone, Cheltenham go bottom|
|El Salvador 0-2 Argentina: Martino's men triumph without Messi|
|League One Review: Canavan leaves it late to deny County|
|Freddy Adu signs with 11th team in as many years|
|Besiktas deny Cech, Danny rumours|
|Puerto Rico v Canada: Haber targets more momentum|
|Miranda not contemplating Atletico exit|
|Austin relaxed over England prospects|
|Manchester United should sign Ibrahimovic - Schmeichel|
|Ibe eyes Liverpool run-in|
|Bertrand called up by England as withdrawal of four players confirmed|
|A-League Review: Risdon nets stunner, Germano tames Roar|
|Panama v Costa Rica: Unbeaten run a secondary concern for Wanchope|
|Italy coach Conte shaken after death threats - FIGC chief|
|Barca fears over Alba eased|
|Schweinsteiger to start Germany qualifier|
|Akinfeev thanks fans after flare incident|
|Injuries offer Kane chance of first England start|
|Russian Football Union to protest following Montenegro abandonment|
|October comeback the target for injured Foster|
|Van der Vaart looks set to leave Hamburg|
|Bale focused on Wales - Coleman|
|Kluivert helps Curacao to victory|
|Hamstrung Alba returns to Barcelona|
|Macedonia v Australia: Confident visitors eye victory|
|Akinfeev to return to Moscow with Russia squad|
|Brnovic: Montenegro have no chance of qualifying|
|Russia had to resume after Akinfeev incident - Capello|
|Terim: Robben absence important|
|Brazil - Chile Preview: Winning is 'our only option' - Dunga|
|France - Denmark Preview: Olsen hits out at 'disrespectful' hosts|
|Morata keen to keep working|
|Canada 1 Guatemala 0: Haber heads Floro´s men to win|
|Difficult to find a place for Kane in starting XI - Hodgson|
|Difficult to find a place for Kane in starting XI - Hodgson|
|Montenegro-Russia abandoned after scuffle|
|Euro 2016 Qualifying Review: Montenegro-Russia abandoned, Spain and England win|
|Accrington Stanley 0 Newport County 2: Visitors up to sixth|
|Kane delighted with ´dream´ start|
|England 4 Lithuania 0: Kane enjoys dream debut|
|Spain 1 Ukraine 0: Morata settles tight contest|
|Akinfeev struck by flare as Montenegro-Russia game suspended after 30 seconds|
|Brazil v Chile: Winning is ´our only option´ - Dunga|
|Northern Ireland v Finland: Controversial fixture met with religious protests|
|Scotland v Gibraltar: Wilson out to dent countrymen´s hopes|
|Republic of Ireland v Poland: Pressure is on, says O´Neill|
|Georgia v Germany: Schneider warns world champions|
|PSV agree permament Guardado deal|
|France v Denmark: Olsen hits out at training facilities|
|Pienaar to return to Everton training|
|Hughes eyes silverware at Stoke after signing new deal|
|Portugal v Serbia: Carvalho vows to attack|
|Dynamo Kiev stadium partially closed after racism probe|
|Hull City fined £30,000 for misconduct|
|Balotelli must work hard for Italy return – Bonucci|
|Marchisio suffers knee ligament injury|
|Hughes agrees new Stoke City deal until 2018|
|Martinez hopeful over injured Everton trio|
|South Korea 1-1 Uzbekistan: Kuziboyev's debut strike denies hosts|
|South Korea 1 Uzbekistan 1: Kuziboyev´s debut strike denies hosts|
|Japan 2 Tunisia 0: Kagawa and Honda shine as Halilhodzic starts with a win|
|South Africa v Nigeria: Mashaba wary of bitter opponents|
|Japan 2-0 Tunisia: Kagawa & Honda shine in Halilhodzic's first game|
|Parma captain Lucarelli welcomes FIGC reforms|
|South Africa - Nigeria Preview: Mashaba wary of bitter opponents|
|Di Francesco ignoring Milan rumours|
|Melbourne Victory 2 Central Coast Mariners 1: Finkler leads fightback|
|Bale would be ´perfect´ for United - Scholes|
|Badstuber and Bellarabi out of Georgia clash|
|Rooney KOs boxing celebration|
|Allen thrilled with Welsh ´hunger´|
|Kovacic to miss Euro 2016 qualifier|
|Costa Rica 0 Paraguay 0: Dour draw marks Diaz debut|
|Reid ruled out of South Korea friendly|
|Deschamps talks up France despite defeat|
|Rooney chasing England goalscoring record|
|Brazil ´superior´ admit French veterans|
|Reeves sidelined for Finland clash|
|Confidence critical for rampaging Brazil - Dunga|