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Atletico defeat leaves Barcelona 1 win from title

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid lost 3-0 at Real Sociedad on Thursday, leaving Barcelona one victory away from clinching the Spanish league title.

Barcelona, which drew 2-2 at Celta Vigo on Tuesday without most of its regular starters, can secure its 25th crown at Deportivo La Coruna on April 29.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Burnley, trails Spurs by five points in UCL race ]

The Catalan club faces Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

Barcelona has a 12-point lead over Atletico, with five matches left, and is 15 in front of third-place Real Madrid, which needed a late goal by Cristiano Ronaldo to draw 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Another loss for Atletico on Sunday against Real Betis would leave Diego Simeone’s team out of contention for the title because Barcelona holds the head-to-head advantage between the clubs.

Willian Jose shot Sociedad ahead in the 27th minute at the Anoeta Stadium. Juanmi Jimenez made it 2-0 in the 80th after a perfect backheel from Jose before Jimenez scored again with an injury-time header.

It was a third straight win for Sociedad, which stayed 11th in the standings. Atletico hadn’t lost in three consecutive league matches.

GIRONA WINS

Girona ended a four-match winless streak with a 2-1 victory at Alaves, staying in contention for a Europa League spot next season.

Aleix Garcia opened the scoring for Girona in the 59th minute and Cristhian Stuani added a penalty in the 86th, moving the team within one point of seventh-place Sevilla.

Tomas Pina struck in the 90th minute for Alaves, which is 15th.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

FIFA closes racism case from U-17 World Cup final

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA closed a racism investigation Thursday that involved a Spain player and an England opponent from the Under-17 World Cup final.

FIFA said its disciplinary panel dismissed the charge against the Spanish player because of a “lack of sufficient evidence that could corroborate the English player’s claim.”

It is the third recent case of a high-profile allegation of racist abuse of black players being closed without action.

The latest ruling, from England’s 5-2 win in India last October, followed “a thorough investigation,” FIFA said.

In March, UEFA ended two investigations because of a lack of verifiable evidence.

Those claims were made by Borussia Dortmund forward Michy Batshuayi against Italian club Atalanta, and Liverpool youth forward Rhian Brewster against a Spartak Moscow opponent.

Brewster also played in the Under-17 World Cup final, scoring the first goal in England’s comeback after trailing 2-0 in the first half.

“Despite the absence of a sanction, which can only be imposed on the basis of clear evidence, the disciplinary committee would like to restate FIFA’s unequivocal, zero-tolerance stance against all forms of discrimination,” the soccer body said in a statement.

In other rulings announced Thursday, FIFA imposed fines totaling more than $1.25 million.

The Laos soccer federation was fined 690,000 Swiss francs ($712,000) for several breaches of rules governing the eligibility of players to represent a national team.

Benfica and Sporting Lisbon were among five clubs found guilty of breaking rules which prohibit third-party investors having a stake in players’ transfer rights, and misuse of FIFA’s international transfer registration process.

Benfica was fined a total of 165,000 Swiss francs ($170,000) in two cases and Sporting was fined 110,000 Swiss francs ($114,000). In Spain, Celta Vigo was fined 65,000 Swiss francs ($67,000) and Rayo Vallecano was fined 55,000 Swiss francs ($57,000). Qatari club Al Arabi was fined 187,500 Swiss francs ($194,000).

Report: Fernando Torres prefers MLS move over China

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At a time where Major League Soccer has growingly become more and more youthful, a veteran presence could be gracing the league very soon.

[ MORE: How does Man City stack up against PL’s best clubs? ]

Recently, Zlatan Ibrahimovic completed his long (very long) awaited move to the LA Galaxy, but now another veteran striker could be calling MLS his home once his contract in Spain expires at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Fernando Torres has been on the radar of several MLS sides, and the former Spanish international is reportedly keen on a move to the U.S. instead of one to the China Super League.

The Montreal Impact, Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders, New York City FC and Sporting Kansas City have each been linked with “El Nino” since word came out that Torres’ time at Atletico Madrid would end in 2018.

The Fire are believed to hold the Discovery Rights to Torres if he does in fact decide to join MLS at some point.

This season, Torres’ role at Atleti has been reduced significantly with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa up front, however, the former World Cup winner has still scored eight goals in 36 appearances for the club.

La Liga: Torres starts Atletico Madrid farewell with a goal

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona win to stretch run to 39 games unbeaten ]

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Levante

Fernando Torres entered the weekend with only seven league games remaining in his Atleti career after announcing this week that he would leave the club this summer. The 34-year-old World Cup (2010) and Champions League (2012) winner began his farewell tour on Sunday and marked the occasion with a goal, Atleti’s third in their 3-0 win over Levante.

Angel Correa opened the scoring with what proved to be the winner in the 33rd minute, followed by Antoine Griezmann’s 19th league goal of the season (26 in all competitions) three minutes after halftime, and it was more than enough for Diego Simeone’s side to secure all three points and maintain their four-point lead on Real Madrid in the race for second.

Malaga 1-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid leapfrogged Valencia, who lost to Barcelona on Saturday, to reclaim third place after dropping a pair of points in last weekend’s Madrid derby.

Isco and Casemiro got the goals for Zinedine Zidane’s side before Diego Rolan pulled one back very late on for Malaga.

The final El Clasico of the season, while carrying little to no title implications, is three weeks away at the Camp Nou.

Elsewhere in La LigaSaturday’s roundup

Getafe 1-0 Espanyol
Eibar 0-1 Alaves

La Liga: Barcelona win to go 14 clear, set unbeaten record at 39

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Wolverhampton Wanderers win promotion, return to PL ]

Barcelona 2-1 Valencia

They’re out of the Champions League in heartbreaking fashion, sure, but Barcelona bounced back to winning ways in league play on Saturday, and in the process set a new La Liga record by improving to 39 games without defeat, dating back to last season. It’s hardly commensurate consolation after blowing a 4-1 lead over Roma following the first leg, but it’s yet another piece of history nonetheless.

On the not-so-bright side, Valencia entered the weekend one point ahead of Real Madrid for third place, thus beating Los Che opened the door for Los Blancos to return to third on Sunday.

Luis Suarez bagged the game’s opening goal after a quarter-hour, poking the ball past the goalkeeper from close range at the near post, and Samuel Umtiti made it 2-0 in the 51st minute — both goals were set up by Philippe Coutinho.

With the victory, Barca are now 14 points clear of second-place Atletico Madrid, with the season’s final El Clasico coming up in three short weeks, at the Camp Nou.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Girona 0-1 Real Betis (Friday)
Sevilla 2-2 Villarreal
Leganes 1-0 Celta Vigo
Las Palmas 0-1 Real Sociedad
Atletico Bilbao 2-3 Deportivo La Coruña

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Eibar vs. Alaves — 6 a.m. ET
Atletico Madrid vs. Levante — 10:15 a.m. ET
Getafe vs. Espanyol — 12:30 p.m. ET
Malaga vs. Real Madrid — 2:45 p.m. ET