La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid stay in title race; Villarreal slip up in Champions League chase
A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight:
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Levante
Antoine Griezmann continued the red-hot start to his Atletico career on Saturday by bagging two more goals, taking his tally to 11 in 25 appearances since signing from Real Sociedad in the summer, and helped Los Rojiblancos (38 points) keep pace with Real Madrid (39) and Barcelona (38) at the top of the La Liga standings.
Griezmann’s goals came in the 18th and 47th minutes, giving Atletico a strong 2-0 lead at the Vicente Calderon Stadium before Nabil El Zhar pulled one back for Levante just past the hour mark. Diego Godin gave Atletico the insurance goal they so desperately desired in the 82nd minute, sending Madrid’s “other” team to three points and maintaining their bid to repeat as La Liga champions.
Elche 2-2 Villarreal
Villarreal looked to be well on their way to three away points and keeping the fourth and final Champions League place within reach, but after Luicano Vietto and Ikechukwu Uche scored to put El Submarino Amarillo up 2-0 after 17 minutes, it all came undone.
Jonathas and Victor Rodriguez scored in the 26th and 35t minutes, respectively, to put Elche, La Liga’s 20th- and last-placed side back on level terms. The draw creates a two-point gap between Villarreal (31) and fourth-placed Sevilla.
Sevilla 1-0 Celta Vigo
When one side falters, there’s always someone else looking to take advantage of their opportunity to rise in the standings. On Saturday, it was Sevilla (33) who capitalized on Villarreal’s less than desirable result, vaulting themselves into sole possession of fourth place in La Liga.
Nico Pareja scored the game’s only goal, his first of the year, in the 32nd minute. The Argentinian smacked a vicious free kick from 22 yards out, briefly sending goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez the wrong way. Celta Vigo were made to play with 10 men for nearly 70 minutes after Carles Planas was sent off after 21 minutes.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 Athletic Bilbao
Malaga 1-2 Almeria
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Getafe vs. Rayo Vallecano (6 am ET)
Valencia vs. Real Madrid (11 am ET)
Espanyol vs. Eibar (1 pm ET)
Real Sociedad vs. Barcelona (3 pm ET)