Atletico go joint top in Spain as Real Madrid suffer another defeat

Madrid, Dec 14 (IANS) Atletico Madrid moved joint top of La Liga after a narrow 2-1 win at home to Athletic Club Bilbao.

Diego Simeone’s side took advantage of Barcelona’s slip-up (2-2) at home to Deportivo la Coruna. Aymeric Laporte put Athletic ahead midway through the first half on Sunday, but Yannick Carrasco levelled for Athletic just seconds before half-time, reports Xinhua.

Antoine Griezmann then scored a goal out of nothing midway through the second half and his side held on as the visitors pressed for an equaliser until the end.

Real Madrid were unable to pressure Barcelona after another disappointing display saw them lose 0-1 away to Villarreal, who won despite several players out through injury.

An eighth minute goal from former Madrid striker Roberto Soldado, who had not scored since August, was enough to hand Madrid another reality check which is sure to increase the pressure on coach Rafael Benitez.

Barcelona had given their rivals the chance to close the gap after seriously taking their eye off the ball on Saturday as they allowed Deportivo la Coruna to come back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw in the Camp Nou Stadium.

Gary Neville’s La Liga debut as Valencia coach got off to a rocky start following his sides exit from the Champions League on Wednesday.

Valencia were lucky to be only 0-1 down to a first half goal from Sergi Enrique away to Eibar and they should have sealed the win only for Saul Berjon to see his penalty saved by visiting keeper, Jaume, before an unlucky own goal gave a late equaliser.

The match ended with both sides reduced to 10 men following red cards to Ivan Ramis and Lucas Orban.

Celta Vigo’s good start continued thanks to an Iago Apses goal which gave them a 1-0 win at home to Espanyol, while Sevilla’s recovery also continues apace as Kevin Gameiro hit two goals, one of which was a slightly soft penalty, in their 2-0 win at home to Sporting Gijon.

Malaga’s first two away goals of the season were enough to give their first away win of the campaign as they came back from Javi Guerra’s opening goal to win 2-1 to Rayo Vallecano thanks to goals from Charles and Con, who scored the winner with less than four minutes on the cross.

Rayo wasted chances to have won the game themselves, but have now lost their last three matches and have slipped into deep trouble.

Granada won a relegation battle away to bottom of the table, Levante 2-1 thanks to two goals from Adalberto Penaranda, while Las Palmas also claimed a valuable home win when they defeated Betis 1-0 with a 92nd minute goal from William Jose.

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