Mon, Sep 15, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Atletico leave Real six points off leaders Barca


Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, top, vies for the ball with Atletico Madrid midfielder Juanfran during their game at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Atletico Madrid gained some measure of revenge for their heartbreaking Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid by beating the European champions 2-1 at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

A second consecutive La Liga defeat for Real leaves them six points adrift of leaders Barcelona after just three games as Barca were 2-0 winners over Athletic Bilbao earlier in the day thanks to a double from Neymar.

Atletico got off to the best possible start as Tiago headed home a Koke corner, but Real were soon level as Cristiano Ronaldo won and then converted a penalty midway through the first half.

With suspended coach Diego Simeone watching from the stands, Atletico grabbed three points 13 minutes from time when Arda Turan scored.

Ronaldo was playing after a three-week layoff due to injury, but even he could not cure Madrid’s set-piece weakness.

Atletico went in front with the first clear opening for either side as Koke’s in swinging corner was met with a bullet header from Tiago at the near post.

The goal led to large swathes of the Bernabeu booing Real captain Iker Casillas when he touched the ball.

The hosts responded well to going behind, and after Miguel Angel Moya had produced a stunning save to claw away a Gareth Bale free-kick, Ronaldo leveled from the penalty spot after he had been felled by Guilherme Siqueira.

Real’s momentum toward the end of the first half petered out after the restart as Atletico began to take control after the introduction of substitutes Turan and Antoine Griezmann.

Turan swept the ball into the far corner at the end of a lovely move involving Griezmann, Juanfran and Raul Garcia.

Atletico trail Barcelona by two points after the Catalans made it three wins from three under new boss Luis Enrique as Neymar came off the bench to score twice in a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou.

The Brazilian slotted home from a Lionel Messi pass 11 minutes from time.

The two combined again five minutes later as Messi breezed past three Athletic defenders before cutting the ball back for Neymar to side-foot home.

“Messi is the best in the world. He is a star and I am improving with him,” Neymar told Canal Plus.

Enrique was also quick to laud Messi’s impact.

“Messi helps us a lot because he is a game changer,” Enrique said. “He does things in training that you can’t imagine, things I haven’t even seen on the Playstation.”

In Saturday’s other games, Malaga and Levante UD played out a goalless draw and RC Celta de Vigo drew 2-2 with Real Sociedad.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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