Simeone’s Atletico blanks Osasuna, racist chants mar Valencia home win over Real Madrid

Madrid, May 21 (EFE).- Atletico de Madrid blanked Osasuna 3-0 at Metropolitano Stadium on Sunday, earning a berth for the 11th consecutive year in the Champions League and regaining the No. 2 spot on the La Liga table after Valencia whacked Real Madrid 1-0 in a controversial and tense match where Vinicius complained about racist insults chanted by the crowd and ultimately was expelled.

Diego Simeone’s men put the screws to Osasuna, thanks in large part to Saul Ñiguez, although it was Yannick Carrasco who got the team on the board first just before the intermission after Antoine Griezmann set him up.

Ñiguez made it 2-0 in minute 62, picking up a loose ball in the box and sending it right into the cords.

Angel Correa put the icing on the cake in the 82nd minute after a nice pass from Rodrigo de Paul.

The win ensured that Atletico will be back in the Champions League after this year being eliminated from play in the group stage.

Although they were in the No. 5 spot on the La Liga table at the November World Cup break, Simeone’s squad have showed considerable verge since then.

Barcelona have already clinched this year’s La Liga title, but Atletico Madrid, with 72 points, are now the runners-up, standing a point ahead of their crosstown rivals, Real Madrid.

Meanwhile, Valencia dealt a stunning home upset to Real Madrid, downing the capital squad 1-0, a significant win since it improves their chances of avoiding relegation.

However, chants of “monkey” from the crowd of 46,000 – directed against Vinicius Jr. – at Mestalla marred the match, as did the Brazilian’s expulsion when he vociferously complained about the abuse, refused to continue playing and got involved in an altercation with a player for the home side.

The drama unfolded with Valencia out in front very late in play when Vinicius was getting ready to execute a potential tying shot-on-goal but a second ball was thrown onto the pitch, thus halting the action.

As the racist chanting erupted, Vinicius refused to resume play and pointed out the man in the stands he thought was leading the chant against him.

The crowd was admonished via the loudspeaker system and ordered to cease any and all such chanting, but tensions increased before another break in play.

Real Madrid players got involved in the matter, further raising the temperature and Valencia substitute Hugo Duro – sent onto the pitch in stoppage time – got into a physical altercation with the 22-year-old Vinicius, who had also taunted his abusers by holding up two fingers, referring to No. 13 Valencia’s possible relegation, although they are five points clear of the group in imminent danger.

The referee expelled Vinicius to get the scuffle under control and so that play could continue.

Real Madrid was drubbed 4-0 by Manchester City in Champions League play last week, but referring to the racist insults against star striker Vinicius on Sunday, manager Carlo Ancelotti said that “when an entire stadium” is chanting racist abuse, the match must be stopped.

“We’ve been complaining about the same abuse (of Vinicius) all season and still nothing has happened. It’s now at the point where a coach must consider removing a player because the game will not be stopped. For this to happen, there is something wrong with the league,” Ancelotti said, adding, “The Spanish La Liga has a problem, and it’s not Vinicius.”

In other Spanish First Division action on Sunday, Sevilla and Real Betis battled to a scoreless draw at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, while Espanyol secured a 2-1 road win over Rayo Vallecano on tallies by team captain Sergi Darder in minute 23 and Ribaudo in minute 59, although Raul De Tomas had temporarily evened things up for the home side in the 42nd minute.

The win was an important one for Espanyol, in the 19th spot on the La Liga table, since they are now behind Real Valladolid and Getafe by just one point, with all three teams in danger of relegation and the devil take the hindmost duo in addition to bottom-dwelling Elche, which is already assured of relegation.

EFE –/bp

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