Atletico strolls past Levante

Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres (C) celebrates with teammate Angel Correa (L) during the Spanish Primera Division soccer match against Levante UD at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid Sunday. — EPA

MADRID — Fernando Torres marked the announcement of his Atletico Madrid departure with a goal after coming off the bench to score in a 3-0 win over Levante Sunday.

Six days after confirming he will be leaving his boyhood club at the end of the season, Torres rolled back the years with a volleyed finish the 34-year-old would have been proud of in his prime.

It was also his 100th goal in La Liga.

"Fernando is an icon here," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "Whether he is scoring goals or not, winning titles or not, he has a place in the club that has been earned by respect, hard work and having an identity with the club. That will not change because of one more goal."

Torres' grievance this term has been a lack of playing time and he was a substitute again at the Wanda Metropolitano, replacing Antoine Griezmann, who was also on target. Angel Correa opened the scoring in the first half.

A comfortable victory cuts the gap behind leaders Barcelona back to 11 points and restores some momentum for Atletico, with their Europa League semifinal against Arsenal less than a fortnight away.

The result also guarantees Atletico a place in the Champions League for a sixth consecutive season.

"Barcelona's season is tremendous," Simeone said. "We will try to get closer to them and if we can't get closer, we will congratulate them."

This was something of a free hit for Levante, which stays 17th, five points clear of the relegation zone.

Simeone's side now faces Real Sociedad Thursday and Real Betis Sunday before the first leg at Emirates Stadium but it arrived here with only two wins from their last five matches. — AFP