Madrid: Atletico Madrid closed to within a point of La Liga leaders Real Madrid when midfielder Tiago scored one goal and created another for Diego Godin in a 3-1 win for the champions at home to Malaga on Saturday.
Tiago nodded Koke`s corner powerfully into the net in the 12th minute at the Calderon and the lively Antoine Griezmann tapped home an Arda Turan centre three minutes before halftime.
Roque Santa Cruz set nerves jangling when he pulled a goal back for sixth-placed Malaga just after the hour but the Qatar-owned club`s chances were curtailed when forward Samuel earned a second yellow card and was dismissed in the 73rd minute.
Atletico made sure of the points when Tiago hooked the ball to the back post for an unmarked Diego Godin to head home six minutes from time before captain Gabi picked up his second caution and was sent off in the 88th.
The victory lifted Atletico, who won their first Spanish league title in 18 years last season, above Barcelona and Valencia into second place on 26 points from 12 matches.
Real (27 points) play at mid-table Eibar later on Saturday, before Barcelona (25) can reclaim second spot with a win at home to fifth-placed Sevilla (23).
The match at the Nou Camp is the latest chance for Barca forward Lionel Messi to equal or surpass the La Liga scoring record of 251 goals set by Telmo Zarra six decades ago.
Argentina captain Messi has been on 250 goals since netting against Eibar on Oct. 18 and failed to score in subsequent games against Real, Celta Vigo and Almeria.
David Moyes will make his debut as coach of Real Sociedad when the Basque club, who are 15th, play at 17th-placed Deportivo La Coruna.