Barca beat Atletico 4-1 in top-of-table clash


The Uruguayan forward bundled the ball in after Real failed to clear a corner, and whistles rang around the ground as the teams filed off the pitch at the end.

Karim Benzema was left in the stands with an ankle injury, and Cristiano Ronaldo started in the centre-forward position, but for all their possession Real struggled in the first half.

Visiting striker Sergio Garcia, a Euro 2008 winner with Spain, sprinted clear to net past Iker Casillas in the 31st minute.

Luka Modric crashed a shot against the post, but just as the Bernabeu was getting restless Sami Khedira crossed and Ronaldo stuck out a foot to level in the 45th minute.

Ronaldo's reverse pass picked out Fabio Coentrao's driving run, and the Portugal defender put Real ahead with his first league goal for the club, soon after the re-start.

A fingertip save and the woodwork prevented a quick third for Real, but Espanyol continued to threaten and Albin made them pay for failing to finish off the job.

Valverde defeat

Earlier, Rayo Vallecano scored a late penalty to spoil Ernesto Valverde's home debut as Valencia coach, with a surprise 1-0 victory.

Valverde was brought in as a replacement for the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino two weeks ago and has overseen victories away at Osasuna in the league and in the King's Cup, but his side offered little for the demanding Mestalla crowd.

After an evenly-balanced contest with few chances, home defender Tino Costa needlessly hauled down Roberto Trashorras in the area for a penalty in the 83rd minute.

Rayo's Alejandro Dominguez stepped up to score from the spot, and the home fans whistled and chanted against club president Manuel Llorente in the closing minutes.

Valencia's objective is a return to the Champions League, where they have already reached the last 16 this season, but they lie seven points adrift of fourth-placed Malaga in 11th place with 21 points.

... contd.

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