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Atletico strengthen lead, Real Madrid slip up again

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Madrid, Feb 1 (IANS) Atletico Madrid extended their lead at the top of LaLiga to 10 points in the 21st round of matches last weekend after a 4-2 win in Cadiz.

On Sunday, Luis Suarez opened the scoring with a free kick in the 28th minute only for Alvaro Negredo to equalise shortly thereafter, reports Xinhua news agency.

Saul’s curling effort put Atletico ahead on the stroke of halftime. Cadiz would feel aggrieved as referee Gil Manzano didn’t award them a penalty before the break after a clear handball from Koke.

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Suarez put Atletico 3-1 ahead from the penalty spot after a clumsy tackle on Thomas Lemar, only for Negredo’s scuffed shot to give Cadiz hope with 20 minutes left to play. Cadiz pressed hard for an equalizer in the closing minutes but Koke tapped home to seal the 4-2 win.

Real Madrid’s title hopes took a further blow on Saturday when they lost 2-1 at home to Levante to suffer their third home defeat of the campaign.

Real Madrid was reduced to 10 men in the seventh minute when central defender Eder Militao was sent off for bringing down Levante forward Sergio Leon, but they took the lead soon afterward as Marco Asensio did well to finish off a rapid counter-attack.

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Jose Luis Morales’ equalized after 30 minutes with a spectacular half-volley and although Thibaut Courtois kept Madrid in the game with a 61st-minute penalty save from Roger Marti, Marti got his revenge when he headed home the winning goal in the 77th minute.

FC Barcelona had to dig deep to beat Athletic Club Bilbao 2-1 at the Camp Nou and move level on points with Real Madrid. The win came thanks to a Leo Messi free-kick (his 650th goal for Barca) and a 74th minute finish from Antoine Griezmann. Bilbao’s goal came from Jordi Alba’s own goal under pressure from Oscar de Marcos.

Sevilla moved to within a point of Real Madrid with a 2-0 win away to Eibar, thanks to Lucas Ocampos’ first half penalty and a close-range finish on 55 minutes from former Eibar midfielder, Joan Jordan.

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To make matters worse for the home side, goalkeeper Marco Dmitrovich had to go off injured in the second half and was replaced by Yoel.

Villarreal and Real Sociedad, both with top-four hopes, drew 1-1. Dani Parejo putting Villarreal ahead with a first time shot from the edge of the penalty area in the third minute, and Alexander saved a point for the visitors in injury time.

Valencia took three vital points at the expense of relegation threatened Elche thanks to Daniel Wass’ first-half header. Valencia also missed a penalty against a rival that offered very little and looks increasingly bound for relegation.

Getafe and Alaves cancelled each other out in a bad tempered and physical 0-0 draw.

The round of matches began on Friday night when Rafa Mir’s hat-trick gave Huesca a 3-1 win away to Valladolid, which is just their second win of the season.

–IANS

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