Atleti win in nail-biter; Real Madrid struggle

Sports Desk, Feb 12 (EFE).- Reigning LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid blew a 2-0 lead Saturday before eking out a 4-3 win over Getafe to take provisional possession of fourth place hours after current leaders Real Madrid dropped points against Villarreal.

In the contest with 15th-place Getafe at the Wanda Metropolitano, the uncharacteristic defensive lapses that have plagued Atleti this season were on full display.

The Colchoneros were up 2-0 less than a third of the way through the match on goals by Angel Correa and Matheus Cunha, but then conceded three times in 12 minutes.

While nobody was to blame for Borja Mayoral’s goal, the next two came on penalties for hand balls. Enes Unal converted on both occasions.

But Correa scored deep into first-half stoppage time to make it 3-3.

The game was approaching the hour mark when Atletico defender Felipe was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge.

The hosts pulled back to defend and had little of the ball before Mario Hermoso got what would prove to be the winner in the 89th minute.

Atletico displaced Barcelona in fourth place with 39 points, but the Catalan club can vault to third with a win on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the team at the top, Real Madrid, saw their cushion shrink to 4 points with a 0-0 away draw against sixth-place Villarreal a day after challengers Sevilla defeated Elche 2-0.

Villarreal were the better side in the first half. Only the post stopped Arnaut Danjuma from putting the hosts ahead in the 18th minute and Alberto Moreno forced a save from Blancos goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with seven minutes to go before the break.

At the other end, Gero Rulli dealt with a good effort from Gareth Bale, getting his first start since last August.

Rulli made a trio of key saves – two of them on Bale – in the second half and got some help from the cross-bar on a shot from Nacho in stoppage time.

Real Madrid, keenly missing injured striker Karim Benzema, have taken just 8 of 15 possible points in LaLiga since the start of the year. EFE rmm/dr

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