Needing a win to stay in control of the Spanish league, Atletico Madrid again stumbled with a 2-1 loss to Athletic Bilbao, giving Barcelona a chance to take the lead.
Even the return of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix was not enough for Diego Simeone’s team, who could fall to second place on Thursday when Barcelona play eighth in Granada at home. Barcelona put pressure on Atletico, coming from behind, to win 2-1 at Villarreal earlier on Sunday, coming within two points of the lead with a game in hand. Antoine Griezmann scored both goals for the Catalan club.
Atletico will visit Barcelona after two rounds.
“We did everything we could,” said Atletico captain Koke Resource. “We will continue to fight until the end. We have five games left and we know we can win them.”
Defending champions Real Madrid were held 0-0 against Real Betis on Saturday, but also remain in conflict. He is in second place, at the level of points with Barcelona and two behind Atletico. Also in the title race is Sevilla, who beat Granada 2-1 to stay just three points behind.
Atletico had won two in a row to stay on top, but could not recover after giving up early at Athletic’s San Mames Stadium. Alex Berenguer opened the scoring for the hosts in the eighth minute. Atletico equalized with a header by Stefan Savic from a corner kick in the 77th, but a header by Inigo Martinez in the 86th sealed the victory for the 10th place of Athletic, which had not won in seven consecutive games in all competitions. One of his failures was the loss against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.
Suarez and Felix have returned from injuries in the past few weeks. They came off the bench at the beginning of the second half, but could not challenge Atletico to victory. Midfielder Thomas Lemar also returned from injury.
GRIZAN WATER BAR
Griezmann scored twice in the first half when Barcelona came together to beat Villarreal and stay close to the top. Villarreal, sitting in seventh place, played with 10 men in the 65th minute after Manu Trigeros was sent off with a straight red card for a dangerous slip by Lionel Messi.
Trigeros was upside down when he hit Messi’s left leg, sliding his sticks on the Argentine’s lower shin. Messi was in pain and needed medical attention, but was able to return.
The hosts opened the scoring with Samu Chuquuese in the 26th, but Griezmann equalized in the 28th and the winner’s net in the 35th.
Villarreal, who host Arsenal in the first leg of the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday, have lost three of their last four league games.
It was the second consecutive victory in the Barcelona league since losing to Madrid in the last classic of the season.
THE GAME ENDS TWICE
The game between Sevilla and Granada ended twice after the referee played some time ago at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizuan Stadium in Seville. Four minutes of added time were expected, but referee Ricardo De Burgos Bengoexeja finished the game after only three. The players of Granada protested and apparently a video review was consulted, confirming that another minute should be played.
The referee had to call the players back on the field to finish the match. Some had already left for the locker rooms and had to put on their shoes and T-shirts again before the game could resume.
Enes Unal scored in each half as Getafe won 2-0 against Huesca in a relegation match. The result ended Getafe’s seven-match winless streak. The Madrid club moved to 15th place in the standings, five points from the relegation zone.
Huesca was last, three safety points. In a midfield match, Celta Vigo beat Osasuna 2-1 with goals from Iago Aspas and Jason Murillo.