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Diego Simeone hails 'iconic' Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres

Diego Simeone hails 'iconic' Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres started bidding farewell to Atletico Madrid on Sunday by scoring in a 3-0 win over Levante that strengthened his team's hold on second place in the Spanish league.

The goal rounded out a week in which Torres announced he would leave his boyhood club at the end of the season when his contract expires.

It was also his 100th goal in La Liga.

"Today I can be happy with a job well done", Real coach Zinedine Zidane said.

"He's earned this status and respect through hard work". While, Griezmann wasted a one-on-one situation with Oier Olazabal shortly before halftime but made up for it in the 47th when he used one touch of his right boot to blast in a waist-high pass from Sime Vrsaljko for his team-high 19th league goal of the season.

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.

The victory moved Atletico back to 11 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona. The striker starred for Atletico from 2001-07 before going to Liverpool and Chelsea, where he won Champions League and Europa League titles. "We will try to get closer to them and if we can't get closer, we will congratulate them".

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Malaga, meanwhile, stay bottom and are all-but doomed, sitting 14 points behind 17th-placed Levante, who had earlier been beaten 3-0 by Atletico.

Next up is a trip to Real Sociedad before hosting Real Betis just a few days later.

Torres enjoyed the biggest cheer of the afternoon and followed his brilliant finish by blowing the crowd a kiss and waving both hands.

Diego Rolan grabbed a consolation for Malaga with the last kick of the game but the result was never in doubt.

That proved to be the final chance of the half as Atletico took a 1-0 lead into the break. But the visitors' resistance was broken in the 33rd minute when Vitolo weaved inside to the edge of the penalty area and slipped the ball left to Correa.

Fernando Torres is set to spend the twilight years of his career in the United States once he leaves Atletico Madrid in the summer.