Associated Press
Monday October 3rd, 2016

MADRID (AP) — 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 1-1 at home with Eibar for its fourth-consecutive draw, and Barcelona conceded three goals in 11 minutes in the first half in a 4-3 loss at Celta Vigo. The crucial fourth goal was an embarrassing mistake by goalkeeper Marc-Andre 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.

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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 2-1 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."


Celta Vigo took advantage of an early breakdown by Barcelona and the late blunder by Ter Stegen to hold on to its home victory.

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.

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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."


Midfielder Fran Rico put Eibar ahead with a header in the sixth minute and Gareth Bale equalized from close range in the 17th, but Madrid was not able to capitalize on its scoring chances for the rest of the match, prompting jeers from fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

"That is normal when the results are not good," Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas said of the crowd's reaction. "The fans come here looking for the victory. They are upset, just like we are."

Alvaro Morata, who replaced Karim Benzema at halftime, had a goal disallowed for offside in the 54th, after Cristiano Ronaldo just missed with a close-range header. Bale struck the post with a header in the 60th.

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Madrid was coming off league draws against Villarreal, also at home, and at Las Palmas. It also drew at Borussia Dortmund in a Champions League match.

The coach couldn't count on Luka Modric, who earlier Sunday successfully underwent arthroscopy on his left knee.

It was the first point earned by Eibar against Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"It was historic," Rico said. "Many players can spend years without being able to do what we did here today. We know it's not something you get to achieve every day."


Two penalty saves by Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves were not enough to stop Atletico Madrid.

Antoine Griezmann scored in the 63rd minute and Kevin Gameiro in injury time to give Atletico the win at Valencia despite Alves' saves in each half.

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Alves stopped Griezmann's penalty in the 44th, but the France forward was able to open the scoring with a left-footed shot from inside the area early in the second half. Griezmann had already missed from the spot in the team's 1-0 win over Bayern Munichin the Champions League on Wednesday. He also missed in the Champions League final last season, when Atletico lost to Real Madrid.

The Brazilian goalkeeper also saved Gabi Fernandez's penalty in the 69th, but Gameiro sealed victory for the visitors in injury time.

"The two penalties mean nothing to me," Alves said. "I wanted to win the match."


Fifth-placed Villarreal drew 0-0 at Espanyol to move to 13 points, while Athletic Bilbao conceded two late goals in a 2-1 loss at Malaga to remain on 12 points.

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