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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football Briefs: Griezmann treble keeps Atletico on Barca's heels

Football Briefs: Griezmann treble keeps Atletico on Barca's heels

Last updated on: February 26, 2018 08:46 IST

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Atletico Madrid

IMAGE: Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring with Sime Vrsaljko . Photograph: Jon Nazca/Reuters

Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann scored his first hat-trick this season as they hammered Sevilla 5-2 away in La Liga to keep the pressure on leaders Barcelona, while fourth-placed Valencia beat Real Sociedad 2-1 on Sunday.

 

Diego Costa gave Atletico the lead against the run of play in the 29th minute, chasing down Ever Banega just outside the area and easily beating goalkeeper Sergio Rico, scoring for the eighth time against Sevilla in all competitions.

Griezmann then showed his class with a magnificent solo goal in the 42nd, waltzing past two players outside the area to drift into the middle before whipping the ball into the far corner.

The France forward scored Atleti's third with a penalty in the 51st after Costa was fouled before Sevilla were careless again when Gabriel Mercado's pass to Rico was intercepted by Griezmann, who backheeled for Koke to tap home in the 65th.

Griezmann completed his treble in the 81st, although Sevilla midfielder Pablo Sarabia scored late on to snap Atletico's run of four games without conceding and Nolito struck another consolation goal for the hosts in the 89th.

"The team were very convincing, we knew what we had to do on the pitch and we did it very well. The second half was our best display of the season," said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

Atleti are second in the standings on 58 points after 25 games while Barca have 65 and host Diego Simeone's side next Sunday at the Nou Camp in a top-of-the-table clash, although both sides will be in Liga action during the week.

Sevilla had only lost once at home in any competition in the last 15 months and went into the game after an impressive performance in their goalless draw with Manchester United in a Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday.

Costa fired a speculative shot at goal early on but Sevilla found the first clear opening when Luis Muriel broke towards goal but was thwarted by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak and Joaquin Correa cracked the loose ball just wide of goal.

Vincenzo Montella's side never recovered from the shock of going behind to Costa's goal, however, and suffered a big setback ahead of their second leg against United when Jesus Navas limped off with a calf injury.

Valencia withstood a late wave of Real Sociedad pressure to maintain their push for Champions League qualification by holding onto fourth spot in the standings.

Santi Mina headed Valencia in front after 34 minutes and the striker restored their advantage from close range in the 68th after Spain international Mikel Oyarzabal had levelled earlier in the second half for troubled Real Sociedad, who are 14th in the standings and exited the Europa League on Thursday.

Valencia goalkeeper Neto made a jaw-dropping save with 10 minutes left from Sergio Canales, stopping the shot with his shoulder as it was about to cross the goal-line.

"We played a good first half and a poor second half and we got a victory which is very important but which we perhaps didn't deserve," said Valencia coach Marcelino.

Valencia are fourth on 49 points, eight above fifth-placed Villarreal who beat visiting Getafe 1-0 thanks to a goal after three minutes by Enes Unal and with keeper Sergio Asenjo saving penalties from Jorge Molina and Angel Rodriguez either side of halftime.

Athletic Bilbao's Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga also saved a penalty, denying Malaga forward Youssef En-Nesyri in a 2-1 home win over the Liga basement club.

Milinkovic-Savic strikes twice as Lazio sink Sassuolo 3-0

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored two superb goals to help Lazio move two places up to third in the Serie A after a 3-0 win at Sassuolo while the relegation scrap intensified with two of the bottom three winning on Sunday.

Second-placed champions Juventus, who are a point behind leaders Napoli, had their home game against Atalanta called off due to a snowstorm, with the pitch in their Allianz Stadium unplayable minutes before the scheduled 1700 GMT kick-off.

Roma are at home to AC Milan in the evening fixture (1945 GMT) while Napoli are away to lowly Cagliari on Monday.

Midfielder Mattia Valoti also netted a brace as second-bottom Hellas Verona beat Torino 2-1 and 18th-placed SPAL 2013 won 3-2 at Crotone, who are 17th only one point above them.

An early Cristiano Biraghi piledriver from 25 metres gave Fiorentina a 1-0 home win over Chievo Verona while Sampdoria edged visiting Udinese 2-1 with the home team's hitman Duvan Zapata scoring after a spectacular solo run.

Serbia midfielder Milinkovic-Savic, who is reportedly being sized up by several European giants, fired Lazio ahead with a rasping shot from 25 metres and headed home the third after striker Ciro Immobile made it 2-0 with a penalty.

Top scorer Immobile scored his 23rd league goal of the season with the spot kick awarded for handball after match officials had consulted the video assistant referee (VAR) amid furious protests by the home side.

Valoti scored a pair of opportunist goals for Hellas Verona, nodding in the opener and sweeping home a late winner with a rebound from 10 metres to cancel out Mbaye Niang's neat equaliser for Torino.

Colombia striker Zapata started a dazzling run deep in his own half and beat three defenders before scoring with a sublime lob from 15 metres as Sampdoria kept alive their remote hopes of finishing in the top four.

Centre back Matias Silvestre fired Sampdoria ahead and scored a late own goal to set up a tense finish after Zapata's stunner had given the home side a two-goal advantage.

In the lunchtime kickoff, SPAL reinvigorated their hopes of staying in the top flight with a fine performance which scrapped Ante Budimir's two goals for Crotone, who may well end up ruing defeat in the basement dogfight.

Leipzig stunned by bottom side Cologne, Schalke up to third

RB Leipzig missed the chance to move into second spot when they suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat by Bundesliga basement side FC Cologne on Sunday, while Schalke 04 jumped up to third with a 2-0 win at 10-man Bayer Leverkusen.

Leipzig seemed headed for a narrow victory after taking a fifth-minute lead through Jean-Kevin Augustin but were stunned by two late goals against a Cologne side who remain bottom.

The visitors' Vincent Koziello and Leonardo Bittencourt struck in the 70th and 77th minutes respectively to secure an unexpected win - and only their fourth in the league this season - that left Leipzig down in sixth place.

"We deserved to lose. Our performance in the second half wasn't like us at all," said Leipzig's Sweden winger Emil Forsberg. "We went into the lead and should have come away with the three points."

Schalke improved their chances of a top-four finish with a win at Leverkusen thanks to a simple sidefooted goal by Guido Burgstaller in the 11th minute and Nabil Bentaleb's penalty in the 89th after Panagiotis Retsos brought down Breel Embolo.

Leverkusen faced an uphill battle after midfielder Dominik Kohr picked up a second yellow card in the 38th for a late challenge on striker Embolo and was given his marching orders.

Schalke striker Franco Di Santo said: "We came here with the mentality that we needed the three points. We fought like lions and I think we deserved the three points."

With pacesetters Bayern Munich having extended their lead to 20 points despite being held 0-0 at home to Hertha Berlin on Saturday, the rest are battling for Champions League places.

Borussia Dortmund can narrow the gap at the top at home to mid-table FC Augbsurg on Monday and boost their top four hopes in a tight battle with two points separating second and sixth.

Dortmund have 40 points along with Schalke, with Eintracht Frankfurt, who lost 1-0 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday, on 39 while Leverkusen and Leipzig are level on points with 38.

Atletico's Gaitan set for move to China

Atletico Madrid midfielder Nico Gaitan is on the verge of leaving the La Liga side with immediate effect to move to Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang for 18 million euros, Spanish media reported on Monday.

Argentine Gaitan, 30, joined Atletico in June 2016 from Portuguese giants Benfica for a reported 25 million euros but has only started two games this season and was left out of the squad for his side's 5-2 win at Sevilla on Sunday.

Spanish newspaper AS said Gaitan is expected to travel to China on Monday to complete the move to Dalian Yifang, who signed Jose Font from West Ham United last week.

The Chinese top flight, whose transfer window closes on Feb. 28, is proving to be a popular destination for La Liga players.

Javier Mascherano left Barcelona for Hebei China Fortune in January while Jonathan Viera departed Las Palmas to move to Beijing Guoan earlier this month.

Atletico will be unable to replace Gaitan as La Liga's transfer window closed on Jan. 31.

Source:
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