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Rediff.com  » Sports » La Liga: Saul goal gives Atletico first win in four matches

La Liga: Saul goal gives Atletico first win in four matches

December 17, 2016 23:06 IST

Diego Simeone's side provisionally go fifth on 28 points, two above Real Sociedad, who visit Granada later on Saturday

Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez (left) celebrates with teammate Lucas Hernandez after scoring against Las Palmas at the Vincente Calderon Stadium in Madrid on Saturday

IMAGE: Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez (left) celebrates with teammate Lucas Hernandez after scoring against Las Palmas at the Vincente Calderon Stadium in Madrid on Saturday. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters

Saul Niguez's second-half strike gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win at home to Las Palmas on Saturday, their first victory in four games in all competitions.

Saul lashed a loose ball into the top corner from outside the box to break the deadlock in the 59th minute and bring welcome relief to Atletico after a week in which they all but dropped out of the title race and lost goalkeeper Jan Oblak to injury.

Saul came close to giving Atletico the lead in the first half but saw his driven shot clatter against the post, while down at the other end Las Palmas defender Mauricio Lemos let fly from some distance and struck the crossbar.

Kevin Gameiro wasted a clear chance to strike before the break but tried in vain to pass to strike partner Antoine Griezmann and it was then up to Saul to score Atletico's first goal in four games and their first in December.

Diego Simeone's side provisionally go fifth on 28 points, two above Real Sociedad, who visit Granada later on Saturday.

Earlier, Villarreal ended a three-month spell without an away win in all competitions by coasting to a 3-1 victory at Sporting Gijon to tighten their grip on fourth spot.

The visiting side went ahead in the 12th minute through Jonathan Dos Santos's thumping drive and Nicola Sansone doubled the advantage in the 20th by stabbing in Alexandre Pato's goalbound shot from close range.

Sansone returned the favour for Pato in the second half by laying on the pass for the Brazilian to round off Villarreal's first win on the road since they beat Malaga on Sept. 10.

Sporting got a late consolation goal through Carlos Carmona.

Villarreal are fourth on 29 points and are guaranteed to finish the year in the Champions League places.

Champions Barcelona host Espanyol on Sunday hoping to eat into Real Madrid's six-point lead at the top, with Zinedine Zidane's side absent from league action this week due to playing in Sunday's Club World Cup final against Kashima Antlers.

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