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Atletico go 7 points clear atop LaLiga with win over Eibar

Eibar, Spain, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- Atletico Madrid eked out a 1-2 victory here Thursday over 15th-place Eibar to extend their lead at the top of LaLiga to seven points over cross-town rivals Real Madrid.

Luis Suarez was the author of both Atleti goals, bringing his season total to 11. He now shares the LaLiga scoring lead with Lionel Messi, his former strike partner at Barcelona.

Both teams were cautious at the start and the match was nearly 10 minutes old before the first episode of note, a Yannick Carrasco foul against Yoshinori Muto that resulted in a penalty for Eibar.

Stepping up to take the shot was goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic, who beat counterpart Jan Oblak to put the hosts up 1-0 in the 11th minute.

The goal by the Serb – the first keeper to convert a penalty in LaLiga since February 2011 – shifted the calculus for both teams and Atleti pressed for a quick equalizer, but Dmitrovic saved Felipe’s header off a free kick.

Suarez tried his luck from distance in the 21st minute, nearly catching the Eibar stopper by surprise.

The next chance for Atleti fell to Angel Correa, whose volley off a corner went just over the cross-bar. The visitors dominated possession, but struggled to pose a serious threat.

Eibar absorbed the pressure comfortably until the 39th minute, when a botched clearance by Sergio Alvarez set up a shot for Marcos Llorente. Dmitrovic made the initial stop, but Suarez pounced on the rebound and hammered home to bring Atletico level.

The hosts reacted and Kike Garcia didn’t miss by much with a header in the dying moments of the first half.

After the break, Garcia picked up where he left off, menacing Oblak’s goal on two occasions inside the first five minutes of the second period, while Eibar’s Alex Pozo fired over the cross-bar in the 52nd minute.

Eibar’s Anaitz Arbilla narrowly missed with a free kick after Felipe brought down Edu Exposito, while Pablo Bigas delivered a dangerous header on a corner in the 67th minute.

Carrasco lofted a free kick into the area, but none of his teammates managed to get on the end of it and the chance came to nothing.

The game was still deadlocked in the 82nd minute when Suarez drew a foul to set up a free kick from a good position, but Carrasco’s shot missed the mark.

Joao Felix forced a good save from Dmitrovic and the Colchoneros continued their assault, getting their reward when the referee pointed to the spot after Arbilla took down Suarez in the area.

The Uruguayan decided that bit of finesse was in order and chipped the ball over Dmitrovic. EFE

lrb/dr

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