Tue, Dec 13, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Atletico’s away struggles hit a new low

AP, BARCELONA, SPAIN

Sporting de Gijon’s David Barral, left, is tackled by Rayo Vallecano de Madrid’s Alejandro Arribas in their La Liga match at the Estadio Teresa Rivero in Madrid, Spain, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Atletico Madrid’s away struggles hit a new low on Sunday when they lost 4-2 at RCD Espanyol in La Liga.

Under coach Gregorio Manzano, Atletico have won just once in 11 away games in all competitions, including a 2-1 defeat at third-tier Albacete in the Copa del Rey earlier this week.

“We have to take a hard look at why we are not able to play well away from home,” a perplexed Manzano said after the game. “It is something that concerns me very much.”

Playmaker Joan Verdu quickly put Espanyol ahead 2-0 with a pair of well-placed long strikes in the fifth and seventh minutes.

Midfielder Ndri Romaric intercepted Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ poor pass and laid off for Verdu to blast the ball from outside the area to open the scoring. The former Barcelona youth product then took advantage of Atletico’s passive defense to shoot into the left corner of the net and double the score.

Romaric added a third for the hosts in the 19th minute after a slick one-two passing combination with Sergio Garcia left him free in the area.

Striker Radamel Falcao pulled one back for Atletico in the 32nd minute with his ninth goal of season, but Garcia burst through Atletico’s defense to make the game safe in the 54th minute.

Only Courtois’ goalkeeping down the stretch saved Atletico from a greater loss, before Arda Turan reduced the final deficit with a goal in the 83rd minute.

Elsewhere, Malaga salvaged a 1-1 home draw against CA Osasuna to maintain their place among the Europa League contenders.

Malaga created more scoring chances throughout at La Rosaleda, with former Osasuna defender Nacho Monreal coming close in the 32nd minute with a volley that hit the post.

Osasuna forward Ibrahima Balde grabbed the opener a minute later when he pounced on a loose ball inside the six-yard box.

Malaga pressed forward after halftime and substitute Juanmi Jimenez strode in unmarked at the far post to convert Sergio Sanchez’s cross in the 70th minute to grab a share of the points.

“Today, we took an important step toward believing that we are going to be in the top part of the standings come the season’s end,” Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini said.

Also on Sunday, defender Alvaro Gonzalez’s stoppage-time header snatched Real Racing Club de Santander a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao, keeping his team undefeated in two games since the departure of coach Hector Cuper.

Getafe remained undefeated in their last six home games as they edged Granada 1-0 thanks to Javier Casquero’s 78th-minute strike from outside the area.

Sporting de Gijon won 3-1 at Rayo Vallecano de Madrid on an early goal by David Barral, followed by Nacho Novo’s double.

Ten-man Real Sociedad drew 1-1 at Villarreal to extend their unbeaten run to four games, while RCD Mallorca got their first away win of the season as they beat last-placed Real Zaragoza 1-0.

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