La Liga: Atlético Madrid moves into second after victory
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Atletico Madrid took advantage of Real Madrid's humbling loss in the "clasico" by moving past its crosstown rivals into second place in the Spanish league after winning 1-0 at Real Betis on Sunday.
Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion blasted in a rebound for what proved to be the winner in the seventh minute after Atletico's intense pressure recovered the ball. After that, the hosts were outmatched and never mustered a serious challenge, while Atletico squandered several more chances.
Atletico replaced Madrid as Barcelona's closest title rival at four points off its pace through 12 rounds. The change came a day after the defending champions dealt Madrid a humiliating 4-0 drubbing at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Atletico's success in exploiting Madrid's woes will increase the pressure on Madrid's coach, Rafa Benitez, whose team is now six points behind Barcelona and two points adrift of Diego Simeone's side.
"We move ahead game by game, and we'll see how far we can go," Simeone said.
Koke, however, didn't budge from Atletico's standard line that the surprise 2014 champions are not chasing another title, given their significantly smaller budget compared to Barcelona and Madrid.
"We are happy to be second, but it's just an anecdote," Koke said. "We have to continue. (The media) talks about us being candidates for the title, our goal is to finish third. Anything above that is just extra."
Betis, which remained in 12th after a fourth consecutive home defeat, lost goalkeeper Antonio Adan to a right-foot injury in the second half.
Elsewhere, Villarreal scored late to salvage a 1-1 draw at home with Eibar that lifted it into fourth place.
In a match that both teams finished with 10 men, left back Jaume Costa received Denis Suarez's through-ball and poked home Villarreal's equalizer off the post with five minutes left.
Sergi Enrich had given Eibar the lead in the 27th, following a tribute before kickoff to the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks. The French anthem was played, while a large monitor displayed the message "We Are All France" in Spanish at El Madrigal Stadium.
Villarreal moved above Celta Vigo and into Spain's last Champions League spot, but its players lamented not getting the win.
"It's a pity because we were convinced of the importance of taking all three points," Costa said.
At the other end of the standings, Brazilian striker Deyverson scored twice in Levante's 3-0 win at Sporting Gijon to move the team off the bottom of table with its first win in three matches under new coach Joan Ferrer.
Granada also got a much-needed first home win of the season, and its first victory in 10 rounds, to emerge from the relegation zone after downing Athletic Bilbao 2-0.
Bilbao saw its seven-game winning streak in all competitions come to an end, partly due to Aymeric Laporte's errors in defense.
The promising talent had a rough outing, scoring an own goal in the fifth and losing a ball that led to Isaac Success securing the win in the 59th before he left with a leg injury.