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Struggling Sime Vrsaljko delivered a commanding performance in defence and Fernando Torres ended his goal drought as Atletico eked past Alaves 1-0.
Fernando Torres scored the only goal of a 1-0 victory over Alaves as Atletico Madrid took advantage of Valencia's slip-up.
Fernando Torres' first goal in La Liga this season gave Atletico Madrid a hard-fought 1-0 win over Alaves on Saturday and lifted the club into second.
Dembele has not played since rupturing a tendon against Getafe in September, initially ruling him out for four months.
Pique said he could understand that Brazilian wanted to seek new challenges and win the Ballon d'Or.