Barca fails to crack Getafe, Griezmann hits 2 in win over Almeria

Madrid, Apr 16 (EFE).- Middle-of-the-pack Getafe held La Liga leaders Barcelona to a scoreless draw on Sunday at Alfonso Perez Coliseum, using a defensive tangle strategy that the Catalans were unable to overcome although they still sit 11 points ahead of their nearest challenger, Real Madrid.

Without the services of many of their top players, including Andreas Christensen, Pedri, Frenkie De Jong and Ousmane Dembele, and with Robert Lewandowski also not quite up to par, Xavi Hernandez’s Barca just couldn’t seem to make any headway against a surprisingly tenacious Getafe.

Although Real Madrid beat Cadiz on Saturday to cut Barca’s lead to 11, with just nine matches remaining in the season catching up to the Catalans is looking more and more problematic After taking their time getting going, Barcelona got their first good shot-on-goal when Raphinha got his foot on the ball but hit the post, whereupon the rebound went back to Balde, who also fired – this time into a wide-open net – but hit the same post for no score.

Hernandez’s squad lost Sergi Roberto in minute 17 to an apparent hamstring pull.

Getafe netminder David Soria did a good job keeping Barca from finding the twine, fending off a header by Lewandowski just before the end of the first half, and he continued in that vein after the break, stopping a shot by Franck Kessie, who was judged offside on the attempt, and later stopping another from Raphinha.

All in all, Getafe turned in a very solid effort, most particularly on defense, while waiting for their golden opportunity, which came in the 86th minute when Borja Mayoral almost got the home team on the board when Ronald Araujo failed to clear and Mayoral picked up the loose ball but fired wide, bringing the local fans out of their seats.

In other action, Atletico de Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann scored two in their outing against the lowly Almeria at Civitas Metropolitano before 59,000-plus fans, although – strangely – they had to struggle a bit at times during the match.

Diego Simeone’s men had the game pretty well in hand most of the time, however, with Griezmann knocking in a header just five minutes after the opening whistle after a try by Angel Correa.

However, Almeria got an equalizer in minute 38 when Leo Baptistao fired a shot on goal that deflected off defender Jose Gimenez for an own goal against Atletico.

It was Griezmann again four minutes later just before the intermission, scoring his 11th goal of the season after a pass from Yannick Carrasco When play resumed, both Carrasco and Griezmann fired off the post, and the team was ultimately unable to manufacture a third tally.

Almeria thought it had a penalty kick coming when Gimenez touched the ball with his hand, although VAR showed an offside that nullified what might have shifted late momentum in their favor.

Atletico sits in third place, just two points in back of their crosstown rivals Real Madrid, and nine points ahead of No. 4 Real Sociedad and 12 ahead of fifth-place Betis, while Almeria, meanwhile, is in the 17th spot, just a hair above the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Girona took another step toward consolidating its position in the First Division by defeating Elche 2-0 at Montilivi, with tallies by Taty Castellanos and Oriol Romeu, and now stands with 38 points in the La Liga table and within the top 10 teams so far this season.

Sebastian Becaccece’s men, languishing in last place and way below the relegation threshold with 13 points, came out with good energy and manufactured several scoring opportunities in the first half but were unable to capitalize.

Girona lost Borja Garcia to injury just 14 minutes into the action and only really began to wake up at about the half-hour mark, with several good chances that came to nought until just before the intermission, after a measured centering pass by Toni Villa, Castellanos was able to head the ball into the net past Elche goaltender Werner, who managed to get a hand on it but couldn’t prevent the strike.

Elche came out energetically again after the break but, as before, were unable to score, and Romeu made it 2-0 in minute 70, beating out Werner with a powerful and deliberate shot.

And Sevilla scrapped and clawed its way to a 2-0 road win over Valencia, who lost Ilaix Moriba to expulsion late in the fray.

It was Loic Bade scoring first for Sevilla at Mestalla just after the break, and Suso making it two a little later.

Valencia, meanwhile, felt it got the short end of the stick when no penalty was called on Fernando, who hit the ball with his hand in the area, and the home squad was preparing for a spot kick when VAR review found there had been no foul on the play in question after all.

With the win, Sevilla – now coached by Jose Luis Mendilibar after Jorge Sampaoli was booted from the manager position last month – moved up to the No. 12 spot, recently having shifted nicely clear of the threat of relegation.

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