Atletico Madrid continued their fine start to 2010 with an entertaining victory over Sporting Gijon at the Vicente Calderon.
Diego Forlan put Atletico ahead early on and although Sporting drew level through Diego Camacho's 34th-minute penalty, the Rojiblancos took the spoils thanks to second-half goals from Paulo Assuncao and youngster Ibrahima Balde.
Sporting set up a tense last few minutes when Luis Moran reduced the deficit to 3-2 in injury-time after Atletico had missed a host of chances to kill the match off, but the home side held on for a deserved win.
Atletico had a miserable time of it before Christmas, including suffering their worst start to a league campaign in 56 years and also getting dumped out of the Champions League without winning a game, but it has been a different story recently.
In five league and cup games since the turn of the year, Quique Sanchez Flores' side have now picked up four victories and scored 14 goals, with their only setback being their embarrassing 3-0 Copa del Rey defeat to Segunda Division strugglers Recreativo Huelva.
However, the capital club still managed to progress through to the quarter-finals despite that loss after claiming a superb 5-1 win in Thursday's return meeting against Recre, and there was more reason to celebrate today.
There were just 13 minutes on the clock when last season's European Golden Shoe winner Forlan put Atletico ahead after latching onto a loose ball, riding a challenge and then slotting low past Juan Pablo Colinas.
Atletico could not retain that advantage until the break though as they were pegged back in the 32nd minute when Camacho slotted home from the spot after home goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo had clumsily brought down Diego Castro in the area with a sliding challenge.
Castro for Sporting and Simao Sabrosa for Atletico both had openings to put their sides ahead in the run-up to half-time, but the respective goalkeepers did well and the rival teams went into the interval locked at 1-1.
Like in the first half though, Atletico were quicker out of the blocks after the restart and they got their noses back in front in the 53rd minute as Assuncao, who was sent off against Recre, scored following a brilliant counter-attack.
Soon after Luis Perea had denied Sporting with a crucial last-ditch tackle, Atletico raced three-quarters of the length of the pitch with a move that involved several players before Forlan headed Tomas Ujfalusi's deep cross back into the six-yard box, where Assuncao slotted home.
Atletico increased their lead 13 minutes later when 19-year-old Ibrahima, who had only replaced the injured Forlan five minutes previously, followed up to score after Juan Pablo had saved when one-on-one with Aguero.
Sporting briefly threatened in the 77th minute when the backpedalling Asenjo was forced to tip over a looping cross from Alberto Lora, but otherwise it only looked like Atletico adding to the scoreline in the closing stages,
Aguero might have netted at least a hat-trick himself, but he twice missed the target with good openings, saw a chip come back off the crossbar and was also denied by Juan Pablo late on following a brilliant run.
The Argentinian's misses were not to prove costly, but it was a close run thing after Moran pulled a goal back with a low shot through a crowd of players to give Atletico a late scare.