Atletico Madrid needed an injury-time goal to avoid another poor result in the Spanish league, earning a hard-fought 1-0 win at Deportivo La Coruna from Thomas Partey’s free kick on Saturday.
Partey found the top corner with a side-footed shot after Gabi Fernandez rolled the ball forward.
“We worked very hard and in the end we were rewarded with a goal from a set-piece,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.
Atletico’s second win in nine matches ended a streak of three consecutive 1-1 draws in the league and Copa del Rey.
“We knew how to suffer,” said Partey, who also scored on Tuesday in the draw with Qarabag in the Champions League. “In the end we deserved these three points. This win will give us a boost going forward.”
The victory at Riazor Stadium moved Atletico to third place, four points behind Valencia and five behind leader Barcelona, which hosted fifth-place Sevilla later on Saturday.
Valencia won its seventh straight league game by beating Leganes 3-0 at home.
Defending champion Real Madrid, eight points behind Barcelona in fourth place, hosts Las Palmas on Sunday.
It was the sixth loss for Deportivo, which stayed in 16th place.
Valencia’s attack keeps impressing, having outscored opponents 28-8 in its run of eight straight wins in all competitions.
“We are not getting too excited, we know it’s difficult to maintain this,” Valencia coach Marcelino Garcia said.
Dani Parejo scored the first against Leganes from a free kick, Rodrigo added a header in the second, and Santi Mina converted a late penalty.
Italian striker Simone Zaza, who entered the game at Mestalla Stadium with eight goals in six games, was visibly upset when he was substituted near the end. He refused to greet his teammates or coach Garcia and went straight into the locker room. Zaza has nine goals for the season, three fewer than league-leader Lionel Messi.
“He wanted to play 90 minutes and got upset, but we already talked about it,” Garcia said.
Leganes, in its second season in the first division, had won three of its last five league games. It is eighth in the standings.