Real Madrid narrow the gap to leaders Atletico

Sports Desk, Feb 20 (efe-epa).- Hours after Levante stunned LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid 0-2, Real Madrid eked out a 0-1 win Saturday over Valladolid to move just three points behind their cross-town rivals.

The Colchoneros first home defeat – and only their second overall – of the season came against a rising Levante side that is through to the Copa del Rey semifinals, but the result was still a shock.

Atletico put 11 shots on target, but the only goal conceded by visiting keeper Dani Cardenas was disallowed for a foul by the attacking side.

Levante led 0-1 at the break on an own goal by Mario Hermoso, who inadvertently deflected a strike by Jose Luis Morales past Jan Oblak.

Jorge de Frutos added a second goal in the dying moments of stoppage time, scoring from midfield into an empty net on the counter after Oblak had gone forward for a corner.

The victory lifted Levante to eighth place on 31 points.

Real Madrid took the field in Valladolid knowing they had a chance to gain ground in the title race and it should have been a relatively simple task against the second-worst side in LaLiga.

But Zinedine Zidane’s injury-riddled squad had to work for the 3 points.

Playing without stalwarts Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema, the Blancos needed keeper Thibaut Courtois to bail them out on several occasions before Casemiro scored off a Toni Kroos free kick in the 65th minute.

Real Madrid improve to 52 points, while Atletico are on 55 points with a game in hand.

In other action Saturday, Elche edged Eibar 1-0 on a goal by Dani Calvo. It was the team’s first victory in 17 matches.

Eibar, Elche and Valladolid are all level on 21 points, but Eibar remain just outside the drop zone by virtue of better goal difference.

Valencia, who have struggled for much of the season, moved up to 12th place with a 2-0 triumph over Celta Vigo, who went down to 10 men in the 64th minute with the expulsion of goalkeeper Ruben Blanco for bringing down Maxi Gomez.

Both the goals came deep into stoppage time. Manu Vallejo scored in the 94th minute and Kevin Gameiro added a second four minutes later.

Without a win in their last five LaLiga matches, Celta sit 10th in the table on 29 points. EFE


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