Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann said his team were still aiming for the La Liga title, speaking after his hat-trick in Sunday evening’s 5-2 La Liga win at Sevilla, a week before Diego Simeone’s side travel to table toppers Barcelona.
Sevilla had the better of the opening stages, but Atletico went ahead when just before the hour mark Diego Costa was booked after a tangle with Sevilla entre-back Clement Lenglet. Then in the very next play he robbed Ever Banega 20 yards out and slammed a shot into the back of the net.
Griezmann made it 2-0 by half-time as he skipped away from a couple of tacklers at the edge of the area before firing a rising shot to the far top corner.
The front pair combined again soon after the break, with Costa fouled by Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico, and Griezmann calmly slotting home the penalty. The France international turned provider when the Sevilla defence self-destructed again and Koke poked into an empty net, then completed his hat trick by slotting home after an excellent run and cut-back from Saul Niguez.
Pablo Sarabia and Nolito got late consolations for a sorry Sevilla side who have now conceded five times in four of their last 11 games.
Atletico have now won their last five consecutive La Liga games to remain seven points behind Barca, and the Rojiblanco No. 7 told BeIn Sports on the final whistle that his side had set themselves the objective of taking maximum points from here on in.
“We want to win all the games we have left, and keep working as we have been doing,” Griezmann said. “We dream of winning all our games, and then see what happens at the end of the season.”
Asked about his third career La Liga hat trick, Griezmann modestly pointed to the hard work put in by his teammates as Atletico took advantage of gaps left at the back when Sevilla tried to get back into the game.
“The truth is I am very happy with the work of the team,” he said. “[Sevilla] went into attack with many players. I am happy with the goals, but the most important is the three points.”
Griezmann now has 16 goals and 10 assists in 32 Atletico games this season — with nine goals and five assists coming as his form has improved significantly in the 12 games since the winter break.
And speaking at the postgame news conference, Atleti boss Diego Simeone appeared to suggest that the team had suffered in the early months of the season as the reported Manchester United and Barcelona target had not been at his best.
“He didn’t give me the ball to write anything,” Simeone said when asked what he would write on the hat-trick ball. “He is in brilliant form at the moment. He did not start the season at his usual level, and the team felt that. Now Griezmann is in great form.”
Griezmann also denied an idea floated that one of Atletico’s goals had been celebrated especially with unused substitute Fernando Torres, who could be about to join Chinese team Dalian Yifang in the coming days.
“At this club we are all a tight group with everyone, the players, physios, coaches, everyone who plays and doesn’t play,” the France international said.