Atletico Madrid beats Sevilla 3-0 to stay in front in Spain
MADRID (AP) — Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion, Gabi Fernandez and substitute forward Jackson Martinez scored a goal each as Atletico Madrid defeated Sevilla 3-0 on Sunday to win its second game in a row and keep pace with Barcelona atop the Spanish league.
Atletico and Barcelona are among the only four teams to have won both matches to start the season, along with Celta Vigo and surprising Basque club Eibar.
Celta and Eibar finished the second round atop the standings with six points and the same goal difference. Each team scored five goals and conceded one. Celta defeated Rayo Vallecano 3-0 on Saturday, while Eibar beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 in its home opener on Sunday.
Real Madrid rebounded from a scoreless draw against newly promoted Sporting Gijon with a 5-0 rout of Real Betis in its first match at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, while Barcelona edged Malaga 1-0 at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
After struggling in its opener at home, Atletico picked up a convincing win at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in Sevilla, showing that it has the strength to be considered an early contender for the title.
“We are improving little by little,” Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said. “Possibly this was one of the best matches we’ve played in a very long time.”
Koke opened the scoring with a strike from near the penalty spot in the 35th minute, Gabi added to the lead with a shot that deflected off the back of a defender in the 78th and Martinez came off the bench to seal the win with a well-placed left-footed shot from the top of the area in the 85th. It was the first Spanish league goal for the Colombian forward who transferred from FC Porto.
“We are thrilled to win in such a difficult environment,” Koke said. “Sevilla is one of our main rivals.”
Atletico Madrid did just enough to defeat Las Palmas 1-0 at home last weekend. The surprise league winner in 2014 has a difficult stretch ahead as it will host Barcelona in the third league round before starting its Champions League campaign.
The only bad news for Simeone on Sunday was that Koke had to be replaced because of an injury in the 64th.
Celta Vigo stayed ahead after beating 10-man Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, and Eibar remained perfect thanks to a 2-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao. Saul Berjon gave the modest Basque club the lead by converting a 34th-minute penalty kick, and Adrian Gonzalez sealed the victory with a goal in the 64th.
Real Madrid finally showed its prowess on Saturday, routing Real Betis to pick up its first win after opening with a disappointing draw at Sporting Gijon. Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez scored a pair of goals each, and Karim Benzema netted the other. Both Rodriguez’s goals were superb, one coming from a free kick and another off a bicycle kick.
The victory came as relief for new coach Rafa Benitez, who would face increased criticism had the team endured another setback after entering the season filled with high expectations.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a few good chances to score his first goal but remained scoreless after the first two matches.
Defending champion Barcelona struggled for the second game in a row but again found a way to win, edging Malaga with a goal by Thomas Vermaelen at its home opener. Malaga had upset Barcelona the last time the teams had faced at the Camp Nou.
In other games Sunday, Valencia drew Deportivo La Coruna 1-1 at home, Granada won 2-1 at Getafe and Las Palmas drew visiting Levante 0-0.
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