Atletico holds Real Madrid 1-1 in fight for 2nd place
MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the 650th time in his career on Sunday but Antoine Griezmann responded with a goal of his own to leave Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid even in a city derby that allowed Barcelona to move closer to the Spanish league title.
Atletico held Madrid 1-1 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to keep a four-point lead over its city rival in the fight for second place. Valencia later defeated Espanyol 1-0 to move past Madrid for third place, and within three points of Atletico.
The draw at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium benefited league leader Barcelona, which defeated Leganes 3-1 on Saturday with a hat trick by Lionel Messi to stay 11 points in front of Atletico at the top with seven matches left.
Atletico won La Liga in 2013-14 but has finished third behind either Barcelona or Madrid in all other years since 2012-13, which was the team’s first full season under coach Diego Simeone.
“I’m not happy because we wanted to win, we wanted the three points to try to stay close to Barcelona,” Simeone said. “We needed more. Our goal is always to try to do the best we can against the powerhouses of Real Madrid and Barcelona. As an Atletico fan I would have been proud of how we have been competing against them.”
Madrid hasn’t finished worse than second since 2014, when it trailed Atletico and Barcelona. Before then, the last time it failed to finish in the top two was in 2003-04, when it was fourth behind Valencia, Barcelona and Deportivo La Coruna.
Ronaldo opened the scoring with his 650th career goal — for clubs and country — early in the second half with a shot from near the far post after a long cross by Gareth Bale from the left flank.
Griezmann equalized less than five minutes later with a strike from near the penalty spot after a move started by Vitolo inside the area.
“We deserved more, it’s a shame,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “But in the end we also could have lost the match. This is how it goes in football.”
Of Ronaldo’s 650 goals, 446 came with Madrid, 118 with Manchester United, 81 with Portugal and five with Sporting Lisbon.
Ronaldo has scored 20 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions, including his acclaimed bicycle kick in the 3-0 first-leg win at Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinals midweek.
Zidane rested some of his regular starters ahead of the return leg against Juventus on Wednesday at Bernabeu, including midfielders Luka Modric and Casemiro. Striker Karim Benzema also started from the bench, replacing Ronaldo in the 64th.
Atletico hasn’t lost at Bernabeu in five seasons now in the Spanish league.
Madrid, which had won six in a row, had the most dangerous scoring chances throughout. But the hosts brought out a great performance by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who made one of his best saves on a last-minute free kick taken by Sergio Ramos.
“Oblak is a great player, he has been showing it game after game,” Zidane said.
VALENCIA MOVES UP
Rodrigo scored with a close-range header in the seventh minute against Espanyol and Valencia held on for its fifth straight victory.
It was the sixth goal in the last five matches for Rodrigo, the Brazilian-born striker who is among Spain’s attacking options for the World Cup in Russia.
Espanyol, winless in three matches, stayed 14th.
HUGE WIN FOR LEVANTE
Levante took a big step toward avoiding demotion by defeating Las Palmas 2-1 with an injury-time winner by Jose Campana, opening an eight-point gap to the relegation zone with seven matches left.
Las Palmas is in second-to-last place and two points behind Deportivo La Coruna, which on Friday earned its first win in nine matches under coach Clarence Seedorf by defeating last-place Malaga 3-2 at home.
Levante opened the scoring at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium with a goal by Jorge “Koke” Andujar in the 35th, but David Garcia equalized in the 50th before Campana calmly found the far corner for the winner in a late breakaway for the hosts.
Levante’s winner came while the team played with 10 men as Koke was sent off for a hard foul in the 86th. Levante also had Ruben Rochina ejected in the fourth minute of injury time.
SOCIEDAD THRASHES GIRONA
Mikel Oyarzabal scored twice as Real Sociedad routed Girona 5-0 at home for its first win in four matches.
The result moved Sociedad to 12th place. Girona, winless in three matches, is eighth.
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