Atletico keeps pace with Barca

Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann (R) challenges Celta Vigo’s Stanislav Lobotka (L) and Pedro Pablo Hernandez during their Spanish league football match at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid Sunday. — AFP

MADRID — Atletico Madrid kept pace with Barcelona with a comfortable 3-0 win over Celta Vigo in the Spanish league Sunday.

Antoine Griezmann, Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Angel Correa scored for Atletico at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

The team’s 10th win in 11 matches in all competitions kept second-place Atletico eight points behind Barcelona. The league leader beat last-place Malaga 2-0 Saturday despite playing without Lionel Messi because of the birth of his third son, Ciro.

Atletico’s only recent setback was a 1-0 loss at Barcelona in the previous round, a result that damaged the team’s title hopes.

Real Madrid stayed in third place by defeating Eibar 2-1 Saturday with a pair of goals by Cristiano Ronaldo, while fourth-place Valencia remained a point behind Madrid by winning 2-0 at Sevilla with two goals by striker Rodrigo.

Sevilla stayed fifth but 11 points behind Valencia in the fight for a Champions League spot next season. Sevilla plays at Manchester United in the Champions League Tuesday in the last-16 second leg. The teams drew 0-0 in Sevilla in the first leg.

Griezmann again was decisive for Atletico. He scored his eighth goal in five matches after a neat move inside the area just before halftime. The France forward cleared two Celta players by faking a shot near the goal, then sent the ball into the top far corner to open the scoring at the Metropolitano.

Griezmann then set up Vitolo’s goal with a well-placed through ball inside the area in the 56th, and started the play that led to Correa’s final goal a few minutes later.

Celta stayed ninth with the loss, its second in three matches.

Forward Gerard Moreno scored a 72nd-minute winner as Espanyol came from behind to defeat Real Sociedad 2-1 and extend its unbeaten streak to seven matches.

Willian Jose opened the scoring for the visitors just before halftime but Leo Baptistao equalized for Espanyol early in the second half.

Moreno got the winner off the rebound of his missed penalty kick, which was initially saved by former Atletico goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya.

The victory allowed Espanyol to overtake Sociedad for 12th place. — AP

Hassan Usman Author

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