Tue, Apr 02, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Atletico blow chance to go second

Reuters, MADRID

CA Osasuna’s Kike Sola, bottom left, scores past Real Valladolid goalkeeper Dani Hernandez, right, in their La Liga match in Valladolid, Spain, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Atletico Madrid missed out on the chance to go second in La Liga when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by improving Valencia on Sunday.

Radamel Falcao canceled out Jonas’ strike, both goals coming in the first six minutes, leaving Diego Simeone’s side third with 61 points and nine games left in the season.

Atletico are a point behind city rivals and Copa del Rey final opponents Real Madrid in second, 14 adrift of leaders Barcelona.

Also on Sunday, an own-goal by Javi Lopez earned Real Sociedad a deserved 2-2 draw at RCD Espanyol to leave them fourth with 48 points, in the last the UEFA Champions League qualification berth.

Valencia made a whirlwind start at the Vicente Calderon and took the lead after five minutes when Jonas took advantage of slack defending to score from close range.

Atletico struck back within a minute when Arda Turan crossed and Falcao beat the offside trap to volley the equalizer, his 22nd goal of the campaign.

Atletico soaked up intense pressure to make it to halftime without conceding a second, thanks in part to great saves by Thibaut Courtois.

Atletico wrestled control after the break, but either side could have snatched the honors in an entertaining clash. It was only the second time this season that Atletico had failed to win at home in the league.

“A point keeps our direct rivals at the same distance. If you can’t win, the least you can do is draw,” Atletico coach Simeone told a press conference. “They have competed in the Champions League, we were in the Europa League. They have the third-best squad in La Liga after Madrid and Barca. I have no complaints about our performance.”

In Barcelona, Espanyol took the lead after nine minutes when Simao crossed low for former Spain international Sergio Garcia to dink in a close-range shot.

Sociedad patiently worked their way back into the game and leveled when David Zurutuza volleyed a long-range lob into the empty net from a weak punched clearance.

A wonderful piece of skill from Sergio Garcia won him space on the left and he crossed for Christian Stuani to volley Espanyol back in front again before the break.

The visitors dominated the second period and were well worth the equalizer when Espanyol’s Lopez stuck out a foot to block Antoine Griezmann’s cross and slotted the ball inside his own near post.

Surprise package Sociedad extended their run to 19 games with only one defeat.

In the midday kickoff, Kike Sola scored twice as CA Osasuna came from behind to win 3-1 at Real Valladolid.

At the foot of the standings, RC Deportivo de La Coruna fired their survival hopes with a 3-2 comeback victory at fellow strugglers RCD Mallorca, earning their first away win of the campaign.

Silvio, Carlos Marchena and Riki netted the goals that put Depor 3-1 up midway through the second half, but a scrappy late strike from Emilio Nsue ensured a nail-biting finale at the Iberostar Stadium.

Depor are now just four points behind Real Zaragoza and safety.

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