Sports

Barça thump Valladolid, Atletico cruise against slumping Sociedad

Sports Desk, Dec 22 (efe-epa).- Barcelona were impressive Tuesday in a 3-0 win against Valladolid, while Real Sociedad suffered a third straight defeat, falling 2-0 at home to LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Atleti are again 3 points clear of defending champions Real Madrid and have a game in hand over their cross-town rivals. Even so, the top six are separated by only 9 points and the season has yet to reach the half-way point.

In Valladolid, Barça played some of the best minutes of their first season under new coach Ronald Koeman. Clement Lenglet opened the scoring in the 21st minute and the visitors led 2-0 at half time thanks to Martin Braithwaite’s goal in the 35th minute.

Lionel Messi extended the advantage in the 65th minute with an assist from Pedri and only the cross-bar stopped him from getting a second goal in the dying minutes.

The Blaugrana move up to fifth place on 24 points as Valladolid slip to 18th with 14.

Atletico conceded 60 percent possession to Sociedad in San Sebastian, but held them to a single shot on target while converting on two of their three shots.

After a scoreless first half, Mario Hermoso put the Colchoneros ahead in the 49th minute and Marcos Llorente added what proved to be an unnecessary insurance goal with 15 minutes left.

To go along with their 32 points from 13 matches, Atleti have amassed a goal difference of 21, which could prove decisive in a tight title race.

High-flying Sociedad have come crashing to the ground and are winless in their six matches.

Sevilla needed a goal from Suso in the 81st minute to take all 3 points from their match against Valencia at the Mestalla, but the score understates the dominance of the visitors, who had 70 percent possession.

The result lifts Sevilla to sixth place with 23 points, while Valencia are 13th with 15, just 1 point away from the drop zone.

Hosts Villarreal conceded to Athletic Bilbao’s Iñaki Williams in the 19th minute before salvaging a point with late sub Yeremi Pino’s goal in the 74th.

A fifth draw in six outings leaves Villarreal with 26 points, good enough for fourth place, but they have played more games than both Barcelona and Sevilla and look vulnerable.

Williams marked a personal milestone with his 172nd straight game for Athletic, climbing to fourth on the list of players with most consecutive appearances in the Spanish top-flight.

A pair of battles between teams near the bottom of the table ended in draws.

Elche and 19th-place Osasuna deadlocked 2-2, while the weakest squad in LaLiga, Huesca, failed to protect a lead and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with visiting Levante. EFE

apa/dr

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