Spanish League — La LigaMonday, February 3, 2014
Atlético reaches top with 4-0 victory
Real Madrid held 1-1 with Bilbao as Ronaldo sees red card
Atlético Madrid took advantage of Barcelona’s slip to reach the top of La Liga with a 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad as Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao and Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off.
MADRID — Atlético Madrid took full advantage of Barcelona’s rare slip-up as it pummeled Real Sociedad 4-0 yesterday to take sole possession of the lead in the Spanish league for the first time this season.
David Villa, Diego Costa, Miranda, and the newly arrived Diego scored the goals that put Atlético clear at the top of the standings, having shared the lead with Barcelona for much of the campaign.
Atlético holds a three point advantage over Barcelona and Real Madrid after Athletic Bilbao rallied to draw 1-1 against Madrid, which finished without Cristiano Ronaldo after he was red carded.
Substitute Ibai Gómez’s volley cancelled out Jesé Rodríguez’s opener for Madrid, which played the final 15 minutes a man down after Ronaldo was sent off for a slight swipe across Carlos Gurpegi’s face following a light shove from his opponent.
Atlético honoured former player and coach Luis Aragonés before the match and fed off the emotion at the Vicente Calderón Stadium to boost its attempt to break the Barcelona-Madrid monopoly with a first championship since 1996.
Barcelona lost 3-2 to Valencia on Saturday, and Atlético did not waste the opportunity to go top by itself.
Diego Costa was lively from the start, and the Brazilian-born Spain striker fed Villa inside the box in the 38th minute to finish off a quick break by scoring the opener.
Villa sustained a leg injury moments later and had to be replaced by Raúl García.
With the home fans chanting Aragonés’ name throughout, Atlético came alive in the second half as García found Diego Costa racing free between defenders in the 72nd and the forward beat goalkeeper Claudio Bravo with a right-footed shot for his 20th league goal of the season.
Two minutes later, Miranda headed home a corner kick out of Bravo’s reach for 3-0 before Diego, who came on in the 58th for his first appearance in his return to the club, marked his return to Atlético by dribbling into the box to unleash a rising shot into goal with three minutes remaining.
“This is something nice for the players, who have made such effort and go into every single game with the same intensity and work ethic,” Atlético coach Diego Simeone said. “Luis would appreciate the team’s courage, since he was a courageous type with character, just like this team.”
Atlético leads with 57 points, while Barcelona and Madrid share 54 points.
Earlier yesterday, Cristian Herrera’s second-half goal gave Elche a 1-0 victory against Almería to lift the club above its relegation adversary, while Ruben Castro scored two goals as last-placed Real Betis beat Espanyol 2-0 to end a four-game losing streak.
Herrera was well placed to redirect Javi Márquez’s shot for the 58th-minute winner at the Manuel Martínez Valero Stadium. So far this season Almería has conceded a league-high 27 goals in the second half. Elche finished with 10 men after Damián Suárez was shown a second yellow card in the 90th.