Atletico leads in Spain af­ter Madrid and Barcelona stum­ble

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Atletico Madrid won early Sun­day and then watched a hum­bling de­feat for Barcelona, and yet an­other dis­ap­point­ing draw by Real Madrid, to lead the Span­ish league for the first time this sea­son.

Atletico dom­i­nated in a 2-0 win at Va­len­cia, while Madrid drew 11 at home with Eibar for its fourth-con­sec­u­tive draw, and Barcelona con­ceded three goals in 11 min­utes in the first half in a 43 loss at Celta Vigo. The cru­cial fourth goal was an em­bar­rass­ing mis­take by goal­keeper Mar­cAn­dre ter Ste­gen.

The re­sults left Diego Sime­one’s team in the lead with 15 points from seven matches. Madrid also has 15 points, but an in­fe­rior goal dif­fer­ence.

Barcelona, still with­out the in­jured Lionel Messi, stayed on 13 points af­ter its sec­ond league loss. It is one point be­hind third-placed Sevilla, which de­feated Alaves 21 on Satur­day.

“There is still a lot of league left and it’s all tight at the top,” Barcelona de­fender Ger­ard Pique said. “All teams are los­ing points. It says a lot about the level of this league.”

Pique scored twice and Ney­mar once as Barcelona came close to ral­ly­ing from the three-goal deficit, but the goal­keeper’s mis­take with the game at 3-2 damp­ened the team’s chances.

In­stead of send­ing the ball into at­tack, the Ger­man goal­keeper tried to pass it to a de­fender, but Celta mid­fielder Pablo Her­nan­dez timed his jump per­fectly and the ball struck his head and hit the far post be­fore cross­ing the line.

“We know Marc is very good with his feet, a lot of our plays be­gin with him,” Pique said. “Ev­ery­body makes mis­takes, but we know him well and he won’t be af­fected by that.”

Barcelona’s Ney­mar, cen­tre in ac­tion dur­ing the match against Celta Vigo Photo: AP

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