Atletico go top

> Barca de­feat and Real draw puts Madrid club at peak on goal dif­fer­ence

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ATLETICO MADRID moved top of La Liga yes­ter­day as Celta Vigo edged Barcelona in a 4-3 thriller, whilst Real Madrid’s run of draws stretched to four against Eibar yes­ter­day Sun­day.

Three goals in 11 first-half min­utes sen­tenced a Barca side once again with­out the in­jured Lionel Messi as Pione Sisto, Iago As­pas and a Jeremy Math­ieu own goal put Celta in com­mand.

Gerard Pique and a Ney­mar penalty re­duced Barca’s deficit. How­ever, a Mar­cAn­dre ter Ste­gen howler teed up Pablo Her­nan­dez to re­store Celta’s two-goal lead be­fore Pique headed in his sec­ond late on.

Real Madrid re­main two points ahead of the cham­pi­ons, but were booed off at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu after a 1-1 draw against the Basque min­nows.

Atletico lead their city ri­vals on goal dif­fer­ence at the top of the ta­ble de­spite miss­ing two penal­ties as An­toine Griez­mann and Kevin Gameiro net­ted in a 20 win at Va­len­cia.

Barca boss Luis En­rique’s heav­i­est de­feat in charge came in a 4-1 ham­mer­ing at the hands of Celta last sea­son and the for­mer Celta coach suf­fered another em­bar­rass­ing re­turn to Balai­dos.

“I can’t be sat­is­fied be­cause we have thrown away the op­por­tu­nity to go top be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break,” said En­rique. “We were clearly in­fe­rior in the first-half.”

For­mer Liver­pool striker As­pas did most of the dam­age as Sisto slot­ted home the opener from his su­perb through ball.

As­pas then drilled the sec­ond into the far cor­ner and it was un­der pres­sure from the Celta striker that Math­ieu turned Daniel Wass’s ex­cel­lent cross into his own net.

En­rique in­tro­duced Andres Ini­esta on his 600th Barca ap­pear­ance for the sec­ond-half and his pres­ence trans­formed the Cata­lans after the break.

Pique headed home Ini­esta’s cross to give the vis­i­tors hope and a bril­liant pass into An­dre Gomes pro­voked a penalty just after the hour, which Ney­mar con­verted.

How­ever, all of Barca’s good work was un­done when Ter Ste­gen chipped the ball into the path of the on­rush­ing Pablo Her­nan­dez to head into an un­guarded net.

Pique set up a grand­stand fin­ish three min­utes from time and the cen­tre­back was inches away from an in­cred­i­ble hat­trick when he glanced a header wide in stop­page time.

Ear­lier, Eibar cel­e­brated their first ever goal and point against Madrid wildly.

Fran Rico headed the vis­i­tors into a sixth minute lead be­fore Gareth Bale’s 50th La Liga goal se­cured a fourth con­sec­u­tive draw for Real.

“The game is 90 min­utes long and lately we have started matches very badly,” said Madrid boss Zine­dine Zi­dane.

It is the first time Madrid have drawn four suc­ces­sive games since Zi­dane was a Real player in 2006.

“It is not a cri­sis. It is still Oc­to­ber and I am not go­ing to go crazy, but some­thing is wrong,” added Zi­dane. “The only thing I can see we can do is to work harder and play with more in­ten­sity.”

The Euro­pean cham­pi­ons badly missed the pres­ence of Luka Mo­dric, who is set to be side­lined for a month after un­der­go­ing knee surgery on Sun­day morn­ing.

Real took al­most an hour to get firm con­trol of the game and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo had the chance to snatch the three points but blasted over from point-blank range.

A su­per Bale header also came back off the post and sub­sti­tute Al­varo Mo­rata had a goal rightly ruled out for off­side as Eibar held on for a his­toric point.

Ear­lier, Va­len­cia goal­keeper Diego Alves’s hero­ics couldn’t deny Atletico as he ex­tended his ex­cep­tional penalty record with stops from Griez­mann and Gabi ei­ther side of the French­man’s opener just after the hour mark.

How­ever, Gameiro fi­nally sealed a de­served three points for Atletico in stop­page time.

New Va­len­cia coach Ce­sare Pran­delli watched on from the stands be­fore of­fi­cially tak­ing charge, but other than Alves tak­ing his record of saved penal­ties to 22 from 45 faced in Span­ish foot­ball, there were few pos­i­tives for the Ital­ian.

Griez­mann had hit the bar from the spot against Bay­ern in mid­week and his well­struck penalty was bril­liantly turned be­hind.

But Gameiro teed up Griez­mann for his sixth La Liga goal of the sea­son.

Gabi then saw a poor spot-kick eas­ily saved by Alves, but deep into stop­page time Gameiro slot­ted past Alves to seal the win. – AFP

– AFPPIX

Barcelona de­fender Gerard Pique ( right) heads home a goal dur­ing the Span­ish league match against Celta de Vigo at the Balai­dos Sta­dium in Vigo yes­ter­day.

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