La Liga: Sevilla right on Barca’s tails; Atleti stumble in 0-0 draw
MADRID (AP) — A lackluster 0-0 draw at Leganes dropped Atletico Madrid to third place in the Spanish league on Saturday.
The result came three days after Atletico’s first loss of the season, to Chelsea in the Champions League.
This time it avoided defeat thanks to a great performance by goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who made great saves against Leganes.
Sevilla moved into second place, two points behind Barcelona, by defeating Malaga 2-0 at home. Barcelona and Real Madrid play on Sunday.
Leganes, in its second season in the first division, remained seventh after its third straight game without a loss. It has conceded only three goals, and it threatened the most at Butarque Stadium, forcing Oblak to make three difficult saves in the second half, including one in the final minutes.
Atletico’s main chance was a header by Diego Godin that was brilliantly saved by Leganes goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar midway through the second half.
Atletico was unable to take control of the game, even after coach Diego Simeone tried to shake things up by changing formation. At one point he replaced forward Antoine Griezmann with defender Sime Vrsaljko, and moved more players to the midfield to try to create more chances.
Sevilla defeated Malaga 2-0 with goals two minutes apart in the second half.
Ever Banega converted a 68th-minute penalty kick and Luis Muriel quickly added to the lead to give Sevilla its fourth win in the last five matches in all competitions.
Banega opened the scoring after Joaquin Correa was fouled inside the area to prompt the penalty kick, and Muriel scored after a run from near midfield following a mistake by the Malaga defense.
“We dominated the entire game, we just had to find a way to score,” Muriel said.
It was Malaga’s sixth loss in seven league matches, dropping it to last place in the 20-team standings with one point.
“We were playing our best when we conceded the goals,” Malaga defender Miguel Torres said. “Unfortunately we made some mistakes. We have to apologize to the fans. It’s been a tough start to the season.”
Alaves finally earned its first win, at Levante 2-0 thanks to Munir El Haddadi’s goal in the first half and Alvaro Medran’s in the second.
Alaves lost its previous six matches, scoring only once.
It was a surprising start for the team which last season finished in the top half of the standings and made it to the Copa del Rey final.
Levante, back in the first division after being relegated a season ago, stayed ninth.