Not the kind of return after the international break Diego Simeone expected because in a tight race for the La Liga title Atletico Madrid ended up losing against Sevilla. Now, for Real Madrid and Barcelona the hopes are lifted once again.
This might not have been a season to relish for Sevilla, but last night they showed their efficiency on the pitch with much better control over the ball and dominance in the centre of the park and clinical touches in the final third.
They had an excellent chance to go ahead just seven minutes after kick-off as Saul fouled Ivan Rakitic in the penalty area. Lucas Ocampos stepped up, but Jan Oblak made his second penalty save in as many matches to keep the scoreboard untouched.
Ocampos tested Oblak again from open play, while Atleti lost Renan Lodi to injury after already losing Stefan Savic to a bout of sickness just before the kick-off.
After the break, Atleti started slightly better with Angel Correa crossing for Luis Suarez just 16 seconds after the restart, only for the ball to be just a little too far in front of the Uruguayan.
Both sides traded some chances, as Rakitic lashed a volley over and as Marcos Llorente and Koke had efforts from distance for the visitors.
The match needed a spark from one of the sides and Sevilla always looked the team taking the lead and it came within 70 minutes of the game.
It all started with a clear Ocampos handball to block a Kieran Trippier clearance and to win back possession for the home team and a minute that ended with Acuna heading past Oblak. The handball incident took place with 69:06 on the clock and the goal came at 69:48, too many seconds and passes later for VAR to intervene. There were 15 passes in total from Sevilla, the last of which was a lofted Jesus Navas cutback from the byline that Acuna capitalized on.
Atleti threatened to equalize immediately.
A well-worked and determined move saw the ball rolled back for Mario Hermoso to shoot, but he shot like a centre-back and the ball landed safely.
There was another good chance for an equalizer, as Suarez played Correa in one on one against Bono in stoppage time, but the goalkeeper made a big save after his goal-scoring heroics last time out.
Sevilla ended the night with full points while Atleti were left pondering what might have been!