Atletico Madrid moved to within six points of La Liga leaders Barcelona thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over David Moyes’ Real Sociedad on Tuesday.
The champions never looked in danger from the moment Mikel Gonzalez headed into his own net after just two minutes.
Antoine Griezmann then doubled the hosts’ advantage against his former club shortly afterwards to end the game as a contest inside the first 10 minutes.
Sevilla moved level with Valencia in fourth place, just four points adrift of Atletico, with a 2-1 win at Levante UD thanks to first-half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Jose Antonio Reyes.
Barcelona could regain their nine-point lead over Atletico when they and closest challengers Real Madrid were in action against Almeria UD and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid respectively yesterday.
“Both the goals are down to mistakes we made,” Moyes said. “I don’t think it is a free-kick on the first goal, but we have to defend it and we didn’t. We made mistakes, and we made mistakes for the second goal as well.”
The defeat all but ended Sociedad’s outside hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League, but the former Manchester United boss insisted he never thought that was a realistic target having taken over the Basque outfit with the remit of avoiding relegation.
“I’ve aways felt like it would be too difficult to make Europe. The distance to make up was too far,” Moyes said. “We’ve been on a very good run. We’ve had two difficult away games and I think the players have done a lot of good things.”
Sociedad beat Atletico 2-1 when the sides met in November last year and they went into the game having lost just one of their past eight La Liga games, but were on the back foot straight away as Arda Turan volleyed against the post inside 60 seconds.
The visitors managed to scramble the rebound behind, but from the resulting corner Gonzalez could only flick Koke’s in-swinging delivery into the far corner.
Eight minutes later it was 2-0 as Geronimo Rulli could only parry Koke’s fierce drive into the path of Griezmann, who slammed the ball high into the net, but refused to celebrate out of respect to the club he spent nine years with prior to his big-money move to Atletico last summer.
“They gave me a lot and I am here thanks to them,” Griezmann said. “We are playing well and now have the consistency that we need to continue with. It is normal that in the course of a season you have a dip, but we are now fighting for the Champions League places.”
Griezmann came close to inflicting more pain on his former employers as he was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Gonzalez, before nodding just wide from another dangerous corner.
Sociedad gradually grew into the game, but only seriously threatened Jan Oblak’s goal when Chory Castro’s powerful shot forced the Slovenian into a smart save.
Atletico took the sting out of the game in the second half with next week’s Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid in mind.
However, they were still characteristically solid at the back to secure a fifth consecutive clean sheet.
At the other end of the table, minnows Sociedad Deportiva Eibar ended an 11-game winless run to ease their relegation fears with a 1-0 victory over Malaga.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Coming from the business world, New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) did not understand why his WNBA franchise did not have a chief executive officer similar to the team’s NBA counterpart the Brooklyn Nets, which Tsai also owns. For Tsai, it was about equality, so he did something about it. The 56-year-old Taipei-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist promoted Keia Clarke to the position last week — making her the first chief executive officer in the team’s history. The WNBA veteran became the third black woman to currently be in charge of a franchise in the league, joining Los Angeles Sparks president
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
MONEY MATTERS: While COVID-19 played a major role in the decision, the CTBA also found it hard to secure sponsorship, and ticket sales would have been affected The Yonex Taipei Open badminton tournament has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a funding shortfall, the CTBA said yesterday. This was the first time that the tournament, a Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Super 300-level competition, has been canceled since it began in 1980. The Taipei Open has been held annually since 1980. The tournament was to be played at the Taipei Arena from Sept. 1 to Sept. 6, with total prize money of US$500,000. The CTBA said that it was deeply concerned about whether the Taipei Open would proceed as scheduled after the BWF announced changes