Atletico climb to 2nd in LaLiga; Sevilla’s skid continues

Madrid, Oct 24 (efe-epa).- Real Madrid beat Barcelona on Saturday to go 6 points clear atop LaLiga, but cross-town rivals Atletico trail the Blancos by just 2 points, while Sevilla lost again to fall out of the top half of the table.

The Blancos have 13 points from six matches. Atletico Madrid, level on points with Real Sociedad and Villarreal at 11, have a better goal difference than those two teams.

Atleti also have a game in hand on Real Madrid, Sociedad and Villarreal and they remain the only unbeaten side in LaLiga.

Against Real Betis, the Colchoneros showed no sign of any lingering effects from their 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League at mid-week.

After a scoreless first half, Atletico took the lead in the opening minute of the second on a goal by Marcos Llorente. Betis went down to 10 men in the 74th minute with the expulsion of Martin Montoya for bringing down Yannick Carrasco in full flight toward the goal.

The referee was ready to let Montoya off with a yellow card until VAR intervened.

Luis Suarez scored in the 91st minute – his fourth goal of the season – to make the final 2-0. It was a fourth loss in their last five matches for Betis, who sit 10th in the table with 9 points.

Sevilla, who finished in the top four last season and hoisted the Europa League trophy for a record sixth time in August, fell 1-0 at home Saturday to Eibar and have just 1 point from their last three LaLiga contests.

The hosts had 72 percent possession and a 21-3 advantage on shots, yet Kike Garcia’s goal four minutes before half-time proved to be enough for Eibar to win 1-0 and vault over Sevilla and Barcelona into 11th place with 8 points.

Osasuna bested Athletic Club 1-0 on Ruben Garcia’s successful penalty in the 81st minute. The victory lifted the home team to 10 points from six matches, good enough for fifth place and a fitting way to mark the club’s 100th birthday.

Athletic, losers in three of their last four, are 15th with 6 points.

Real Madrid, who came into Saturday’s Clasico after successive losses to non-elite sides, left with 3 points after beating Barcelona at Camp Nou for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.

Dubbed the Silent Clasico for the absence of spectators due to Covid-19, this latest installment of the most storied rivalry in club soccer featured the reigning LaLiga champions against a Blaugrana squad that ended the last campaign with no trophies.

After going undefeated in their first three domestic contests under new coach Ronald Koeman, Barça fell 1-0 last week to Getafe, though they went on to clobber Ferencvaros 5-1 in mid-week Champions League action.

The Blancos, meanwhile, followed a 1-0 LaLiga loss to promoted Cadiz with a 3-2 Champions League defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk.

Koeman, a key player for the Barcelona team that won LaLiga four years in a row in the early 1990s, signaled a bold approach to his first Clasico as a coach with a starting 11 that included Pedri and Sergiño Dest – both 19 – and Ansu Fati, who will turn 18 in a week.

The Dutchman left Antoine Griezmann on the bench and put Philippe Coutinho out alongside Pedri and Lionel Messi.

The only notable change for Real Madrid was Fede Valverde in midfield for Luka Modric and the Uruguayan wasted no time in repaying Zinedine Zidane for his confidence in him.

Valverde gave Real Madrid a 1-0 lead in the 5th minute with a massive assist from Karim Benzema.

The advantage lasted only three minutes, as Messi connected with Jordi Alba and the defender got the ball to Fati, who blew past Sergio Ramos before delivering a shot that left Thibaut Courtois no chance to make it 1-1.

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