Tue, Nov 11, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Atletico fail to close Real gap after fall at coach-less Sociedad


Atletico Madrid forward Mario Mandzukic, right, evades Real Sociedad defender Carlos Martinez, center, to score in their La Liga match at the Estadio Anoeta in San Sebastian, Spain, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

La Liga champions Atletico Madrid remain four points behind leaders Real Madrid as they fell 2-1 to manager-less Real Sociedad after being reduced to 10 men.

Sociedad are expected to announce the appointment of former Manchester United manager David Moyes in the coming days and on this performance, there was plenty to encourage the Scot.

Five minutes after Mario Mandzukic fired Atletico into an early lead from Raul Garcia’s fine low cross, Carlos Vela curled home a wonderful equalizer. The Mexican was then extremely unlucky to see a yellow card for diving when he seemed to have been felled by Diego Godin inside the area.

Godin showed the athleticism and awareness that has made him one of the best centerbacks in the world to prevent Erreala going in front just before the break as he raced back to clear off the line after Imanol Agirretxe latched onto Miranda’s awful backpass and rounded Miguel Angel Moya.

Atletico’s task became much tougher four minutes into the second period when Guilherme Siqueira was shown two quickfire bookings to leave the visitors with 10 men.

Vela had another penalty appeal waved away when he clashed with Mandzukic inside the area and the Croatia international could have restored los Colchoneros’ lead at the other end when he turned Cristian Ansaldi’s low cross just wide.

However, Diego Simeone’s men were struggling to retain possession and were finally punished eight minutes from time when Imanol Aggirretxe powered a header home at the near post to hand Sociedad just their second win of the season.

There was also disappointment at Valencia and Sevilla as they were held at home by Athletic Bilbao and Levante UD respectively.

The point moved Valencia up to third, three points behind Real, while Sevilla remain fifth, but are now level with Atletico on 23 points.

Valencia have taken advantage of their lack of European action so far this season, suggesting they could pose an unlikely title challenge.

However, with Spain international strike duo Paco Alcacer and Rodrigo held scoreless for the sixth consecutive game, even the introduction of Alvaro Negredo as a second-half substitute could not break Athletic’s well-organized defense.

It was a similar story for Sevilla, who drew los Granotes 1-1 despite going in front when Vitolo headed home Gerard Deulofeu’s cross on the half-hour mark.

Sevilla’s top scorer Carlos Bacca had two chances to seal the three points after the break as he fired just wide and was then denied by a clearance off the line by Juanfran.

The hosts were left to regret those missed opportunities as goalkeeper Beto flapped at a corner 10 minutes from time and the ball fell kindly for Victor Casadesus to prod home from close range.

The day’s remaining game also ended in a draw, but the result was a welcome one for hosts RCD Espanyol, who hit a 90th-minute equalizer to salvage a point after trailing Villarreal for most of the game.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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