Atletico Madrid kept its pressure on Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league standings despite being depleted by injuries
Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates REUTERS
Despite being depleted by injuries, Atletico Madrid kept pressure on Barcelona at the top of the Spanish league standings. Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez scored first-half goals as Atletico defeated Getafe 2-0 on Saturday to move within two points of leader Barcelona, which on Sunday visits Girona. Diego Simeone’s team earned the comfortable home victory even though it was missing injured players such as Diego Costa, Filipe Luis, Angel Correa and Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion.
Simeone had fewer than 15 first-team players available at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. He used 18-year-old youth player Victor Mollejo as one of his second-half substitutes. The win came amid transfer rumors involving some of its top players, including star defender Diego Godin, who is reportedly near a deal to join Inter Milan. Godin started on Saturday but had to be substituted at halftime with an apparent muscle injury.
The extension of Simeone’s contract also has been a hot topic in recent days, as is the probable arrival of striker Alvaro Morata from Chelsea. Some fans at the Metropolitano sang criticizing the signing of Morata, a former Real Madrid player.
“We always respect the fans’ opinion, but I have to search for players I think will best serve the team and the club,” Simeone said. Atletico is unbeaten in 18 straight league games. It’s only league loss was in September.
Getafe, one of the surprises in the league, saw defenders Leandro Cabrera and Dakonam Ortega Djene sent off in the final minutes after being shown second yellow cards.
“We didn’t play well,” Getafe coach Jose Bordalas said. “We weren’t ourselves.” The team from southern Madrid stayed sixth in the standings despite the defeat, which comes before it defends a 1-0 first-leg win against Valencia in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
SEVILLA KEEP PACE
Sevilla routed Levante 5-0 with a spectacular second half, ending a four-match winless streak and moving to third in the standings. Wissam Ben Yedder, Andre Silva, Franco Vazquez, Pablo Sarabia, and Quincy Promes all scored after halftime to move Sevilla even on points with fourth-placed Real Madrid, which plays at Espanyol on Sunday. Sevilla is ahead on goal difference.
Sevilla and Madrid trail leader Barcelona by 10 points. Sevilla hadn’t won in the league since December. It was coming off a 2-0 loss at Real Madrid in a result that dropped the team out of the top three for the first time since October.
“We knew we couldn’t fail after losing the last couple of matches,” Vazquez said. “This victory was important to keep us near the top.” Last year, Sevilla routed Levante 6-2 in Valencia.
With his 10th league goal, Ben Yedder is one away from his best first-season tally in 2016-17. Portugal forward Silva ended a seven-match scoreless streak in the league with his ninth goal of the competition.
Valencia added to its good momentum and reached seventh place by defeating Villarreal 3-0 with goals by Mouctar Diakhaby, Denis Cheryshev and Rodrigo. Villarreal, second-to-last in the standings, had its winless streak extended to eight matches. Earlier, Leganes salvaged a 2-2 draw against Eibar at home after erasing a two-goal first-half deficit.