Real Madrid drop points as storm idles Atletico

Madrid, Jan 9 (efe-epa).- The most powerful winter storm to strike Spain in decades forced the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled LaLiga match between leaders Atletico Madrid and Athletic, creating an opening for second-place Real Madrid to vault above their rivals, but the Blancos drew 0-0 with second-from-bottom Osasuna.

Barcelona, meanwhile, climbed to third with a win at Granada and Sevilla nipped Real Sociedad to move within 2 points of fourth.

Storm Filomena, already blamed for four deaths, dumped enough snow on Madrid to effectively shut down the capital, where Atletico were set to host Athletic Bilbao, and league officials decided to postpone the game.

But LaLiga deemed conditions in Pamplona acceptable for the Blancos’ contest with Osasuna to go forward. The visitors had 71 percent possession, yet they managed only one shot on target against the hosts’ well-ordered defense.

“In my view, the right conditions weren’t there for us to play a game of football,” an angry Zinedine Zidane said after the goalless draw.

When a reporter asked whether the match should have been postponed, the Real Madrid coach responded: “Yes, clearly.”

The result leaves the Blancos on 37 points, one less than Atleti, who have three games in hand over both Real Madrid and Barcelona.

After struggling with inconsistency in LaLiga early this season, Ronald Koeman’s men are unbeaten in their last eight league matches and have begun 2021 with three consecutive wins.

Granada’s Antonio Puertas had the first real scoring chance of Saturday’s tie, but Barça goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was equal to the task and the Blaugrana dominated from that point on.

Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi each had a brace. For the Argentine, it was a second straight two-goal performance.

Griezmann opened the scoring in the 12th minute and Barcelona were up 3-0 at half-time on Messi’s goals in the 35th and 42nd minutes, including the captain’s first marker on a free kick in 23 matches.

And once Griezmann extended the lead to 4-0, Koeman took the opportunity to rest Messi for the final 30 minutes.

Barça go to 34 points, 3 behind Real Madrid. Granada remain in seventh with 24 points.

The day’s action began with Sevilla’s edging Real Sociedad 3-2 on three goals by Youssef En-Nesyri, the Moroccan’s first LaLiga hat trick.

Four of the five goals came in the space of 10 minutes.

En-Nesyri got his first in the fourth minute, but Sociedad were level a minute later after Sevilla’s Diego Carlos incurred an own goal while attempting to send the ball back to keeper Bono.

The Morocco international put Sevilla ahead 2-1 in the 7th minute. Alexander Isak answered for Sociedad in the 14th.

Yet, En-Nesyri would have the last work, completing the triple in the first minute of the second half to secure all 3 points for Sevilla, who went level with Sociedad on points at 30 and have three games in hand.

Sociedad are fifth, ahead of Sevilla, on goal difference.

The San Sebastian team have won only once in their last nine matches. EFE

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