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Rediff.com  » Sports » Football Briefs: Atletico surrender unbeaten home league record with Espanyol loss

Football Briefs: Atletico surrender unbeaten home league record with Espanyol loss

Last updated on: May 06, 2018 22:33 IST

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Atletico Madrid

IMAGE: Atletico Madrid slumped to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home. Photograph: Atletico Madrid/ Twitter

Atletico Madrid suffered a hangover from reaching the Europa League final in midweek as they slumped to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to Espanyol on Sunday, losing for the first time in La Liga at their Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

Midfielder Oscar Melendo put Espanyol ahead after 53 minutes with the help of a huge deflection off Atletico defender Stefan Savic and Brazilian forward Leo Baptistao doubled the lead with a thumping low drive from outside the area against his old side.

 

Espanyol are 15th in the standings and had only won one of their previous seven games, making them unlikely candidates to become the first team to beat Atletico in the league since their 68,000-capacity stadium opened in September.

Atletico are second on 75 points, 11 behind champions Barcelona who have two games in hand and play Real Madrid later on Sunday. Diego Simeone's side are four ahead of third-placed Real, who have also played two games fewer than Atletico.

Diego Simeone made five changes to the Atletico team that beat Arsenal 1-0 in Thursday's Europa League semi-final, second leg for a 2-1 aggregate win, leaving out influential defender Diego Godin and striking pair Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann.

Atletico had previously lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea in the Champions League in September and 2-1 to Sevilla in the King's Cup in January.

Cardiff City promoted to Premier League

Cardiff City

IMAGE: Cardiff City's Callum Paterson in action with Reading's Jon Dadi Bodvarsson as Cardiff City fans appeal for hand ball. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Cardiff City were promoted to the Premier League after a goalless draw against Reading on Sunday secured them second place in England's second tier Championship.

Cardiff finished with 90 points, two points ahead of third-placed Fulham, who suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City on the final day of the campaign.

Cardiff re-enter the top-flight for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Juve almost certain to win title after Napoli held

Napoli

IMAGE: Napoli's Marek Hamsik, Dries Mertens and team mates look dejected at the end of the match. Photograph: Ciro De Luca/Reuters

Napoli almost certainly handed Juventus a seventh successive Serie A title on Sunday when they twice squandered the lead and were held 2-2 at home by midtable Torino.

The draw left Napoli, the only team who can catch league leaders Juventus, six points behind the Turin side with two games left to play.

As the teams are level on their head-to-head record, goal difference would decide the winners if they finished with equal points and Juve are currently 16 goals better off than Napoli.

Dries Mertens and substitute Marek Hamsik scored for the hosts but Torino replied each time with goals from Daniele Baselli and Lorenzo De Silvestri.

Juventus survive fright

Juventus players celebrate

IMAGE: Juventus players celebrate after the match against Bologna. Photograph: Massimo Pinca/Reuters

Juventus fell behind to a first-half penalty before scoring three times after the break to beat Bologna 3-1 on Saturday and close in on their seventh successive Serie A title.

The Turin side capitalised on dreadful defending by the visitors as they moved seven points clear at the top and will clinch the title without playing on Sunday in the unlikely event that challengers Napoli lose at home to Torino.

Otherwise, they would need three more points from their last two games which include a home match against a Verona side who were relegated earlier on Saturday in a 4-1 defeat at AC Milan.

Bologna, comfortably sitting in midtable, took a shock lead in an incident which raised more questions about the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) which is being trialled in Serie A and other domestic leagues this season.

Lorenzo Crisetig was pushed over by Daniele Rugani as he intercepted a weak pass out of goal by Gianluigi Buffon and the referee pointed to the spot amid Juventus protests.

Simone Verdi stepped up for the penalty but had to wait for three minutes as the referee checked the incident with VAR officials.

There appeared to a communication problem as the referee went over to look at the pitchside monitor himself before confirming the decision. Verdi kept his cool and virtually rolled the ball into the goal as Buffon went the wrong way.

Juve were gifted an equaliser seven minutes into the second half when Bologna's Sebastien de Maio turned Juan Cuadrado's cross into his own goal.

Emil Krafth hit the post for Bologna but the visitors were sunk by more bad defending.

Sami Khedira headed Juve in front after goalkeeper Antonio Mirante flapped half-heartedly at a long looping Douglas Costa cross from the left and Paulo Dybala swept in the third from another Costa cross after the Brazilian won an aerial battle with Vasilis Torosidis far too easily.

Hakan Calhanoglu, Patrick Cutrone, Ignazio Abate and Fabio Borini shared the goals as Milan comfortably dispatched Verona in the early match at San Siro while Lee Seung-woo scored a consolation for the visitors.

Verona were left seven points adrift of safety with two matches to play and went straight back down after being promoted last season.

Simeone calls on UEFA to change away-goals rule

Diego Simeone

IMAGE: Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone was banished to the stands for the Europa League final after being handed a four-match ban for insulting a match official during the semi-final first leg against Arsenal. Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has called on UEFA to change the away-goals rule, suggesting sides playing the second legaway have an unfair advantage under current regulations.

The Argentine, who was sent off in the first leg of Atletico’s 2-1 aggregate Europa League semi-final victory over Arsenal, received a four-game suspension from European soccer’s governing body for the incident which led to him being sent to the stands.

Simeone, 48, has served the first match of the ban and local media reported that he will contest the punishment, which if upheld would mean he cannot sit in the dugout during the final against Olympique de Marseille on May 16 in Lyon.

“UEFA needs to have a look at how difficult it is to play a second leg at home, with your opponent having 30 extra minutes in which one of their goals counts double, when as the home side you don’t have this advantage," Simeone told a news conference on Saturday.

“I invite those within sporting justice to have a look at this. There’s no reason that the side playing the second leg away from home should have 30 extra minutes and the chance to score a more valuable goal.

“I’m sure they’re very capable of seeing it and it’d help it be more even for everyone, because if not, injustices start to appear.”

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