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La Liga roundup: Nacho header powers Real Madrid to top of table (video)

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Real Madrid’s close win at the Estadio Jose Zorilla to go atop of Spain’s top-flight highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Valladolid 0-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid is three points clear at the top of La Liga after Nacho Fernandez’s header in the 78th minute against Real Valladolid on Sunday.

With defending champions Barcelona dropping three, crucial points against Valencia on Saturday, Zinedine Zidane and company take a giant leap in the tight title race. Los Blancos’ 46 points are the most within La Liga with less than a half a season to go.

But even then, the French manager was reluctant to accept that his team did enough against Valladolid to claim league triumph.

“For us, nothing changes,” Zidane said. “We are happy with the victory, the work done having fought until the end, but nothing changes. There are 17 games left and we will continue fighting until the end.

“I don’t want to talk about being champions because there is still a lot left to play. It changes nothing to be leaders, they are three important points but nothing more.

“There are a lot of league games left and it will be difficult for all teams, including us.”

Madrid’s defense shined all 90 minutes, denying the hosts from registering a shot on target and producing the match-winning goal via Nacho.

“Defensively, what we are doing, we are doing well. It is our strength,” Zidane also told reporters. “We defend all and when we lose the ball we recover it very high, and if we keep it we have a good chance of scoring.”

“Nacho scored and that is part of football. We know that we can improve in this aspect,” he added. “Nacho is a professional. When he has to compete he does well. I’m glad for his goal; he doesn’t usually score them but from time-to-time we can also create chances for defenders.”

Debuting for Madrid in 2011, Nacho has made 133 appearances and scored seven goals. His goal on Sunday perhaps the most important, earning his team what is arguably their most crucial league win this season.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Leganes

Celta Vigo 0-0 Eibar

Getafe 1-0 Real Betis

Real Sociedad 3-0 Mallorca

La Liga Roundup: Sevilla squeeze past Valladolid, go third (video)

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Sevilla’s thin victory at Jose Zorilla Stadium highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Valladolid 0-1 Sevilla

If it wasn’t for video assistant referee (VAR), there’s a good chance that Julen Lopetegui and company would have walked away from Valladolid with a point, not three. 

 

Following a heavy challenge from Valladolid captain Javi Moyano on Nolito, VAR’s intervention concluded that the visitor’s were to be awarded a penalty. Ever Banega’s strike from the spot was stopped by Jordi Masip, only for VAR to overturn the sequence due to encroachment from Masip.

A second time around, Banega rifled the ball into the top right corner of the goal, scoring the first and lone goal of the match.

With the win, Sevilla moved ahead of Atletico Madrid and remain one point away from leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“There is a long way to go and I think my team has a big margin for improvement,” Sevilla manager Lopetegui said following the game. “We are competing well and are happy we got the three points.”

After receiving his second yellow card of the night, Lucas Ocampos was sent off in stoppage time for the visitor’s. The Argentine has accumulated five goals in 12 appearances this season, leading the team.

Sevilla’s win brings and end to Valladolid’s – owned by Brazilian legend Ronaldo – unbeaten streak at home this season.

Unbeaten in eight straight games across all competitions, Sevilla travel back to Seville to host Qarabag in Europa League competition, while Real Valladolid –  now in the 14th spot – travel to Celta to try and overturn their two-game losing streak.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Espanyol 1-1 Getafe

Osasuna 1-2 Athletic Bilbao

Eibar 0-2 Alaves

Villarreal 1-3 Celta Vigo

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win, go level on points with Barcelona (video)

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Atletico Madrid’s victory over Athletic Bilbao, inspired by Angel Correa’s genius, highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Atletico Madrid 4-2 Granada

Diego Simeone took what many would consider to be a gamble prior to Saturday’s first whistle: starting Angel Correa over Diego Costa, Atletico’s goal scoring machine.

By the 64th minute, however, everyone at the Wanda Metropolitana and Simeone himself knew that the right choice was made. Correa – a low light coming into Saturday’s game – contributed the assists on both goals that handed Los Colchoneros their fifth win of the season.

Early on, it was Jan Oblak to the rescue, as Athletic’s attack cracked the home side’s backline. Specifically, the Slovenian showed off his impeccable abilities when, Iñigo Martínez’s header from a corner kick set piece, was just tipped over the crossbar.

The Basque’s club dominance wouldn’t last long.

In the 28th minute, following some mesmerizingly quick faints inside the penalty box, Correa laid it off to Saul, who made no mistake and put it into the back of net. It was the start of the Argentine’s special night.

Following a slew of uninterrupted passes, it was Correa again making the penultimate effort. This time, his darting, crossing service within the box found a well-positioned Alvaro Morata, who gently tapped the ball into the back of the net.

With the postponement of El Clasico, which was done because Catalan separatists are planning another large rally in Barcelona, Atletico will share the podium with leaders Barcelona for at least a week after their win against Athletic Bilbao, who host Espanyol next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Leganes 1-0 RCD Mallorca 

Valladolid 2-0 Eibar

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win first opener in four years

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Spain’s top flight is two days into a new season, and here’s a roundup of all of Sunday’s action.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Getafe

It wasn’t done in aesthetically pleasing fashion, but Atletico Madrid won their first opening season game in four years.

In fact, the first half was rough with both Atletico and Getafe loosing players to straight red cards. Getafe’s Jorge Molina saw red for a studs-up challenge in the 38th minute, while Renan Lodi was asked to leave the field in his debut for Los Colchoneros. 

Summer signing Alvaro Morata proved to be the difference for Atletico, however. Assisted by former Tottenham fullback Kieran Trippier, the team’s academy product scored early on in the 23rd minute – the goal made Atletico one of eight clubs to start the season with three points.

$140 million signing Joao Felix also made his La Liga debut, and impressed the home crowd with a dazzling run in the second half that ended drawing a penalty for Atletico. Morata missed.

Not the smoothest of games for Diego Simeone’s side, but like Real Madrid, they already have an edge on Barcelona.

Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla 

Julen Lopetegui can finally breathe (and coach) in peace.

Following a series of unfortunate events with the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, Lopetegui and Sevilla started their new era in a winning way.

Sergio Reguilon got things started for the visiting side with a tap in inside the six-yard box. And in the final minutes, no stranger to stepping up for Sevilla, Nolito slotted one past Diego Lopez.

With only two shots on frame to speak for them, Espanyol was one, two steps behind Los Hispalenses, who look for another top-six finish in Spain’s top-flight league.

Sevilla’s young quest for that continues as they travel to Granada. Meanwhile, Espanyol have no time to waist with a Europa League play-off bout against Ukrainian side Zorya lined up midweek.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid

Alaves 1-0 Levante

Espanyol concedes late, loses chance to take lead in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Espanyol conceded in injury time to draw Valladolid 1-1 and miss a chance to take the outright lead in the Spanish league on Friday.

Espanyol was in front until Italian forward Daniele Verde converted a free kick a minute into injury time to even the match and keep the visitors from moving past Catalan rival Barcelona at the top of the standings.

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Espanyol now has the same 18 points as Barcelona but trails on goal difference. Barcelona hosts Real Madrid in the league “clasico” on Sunday at Camp Nou Stadium.

Forward Borja Iglesias put Espanyol ahead with a powerful right-footed shot from outside the area in the first half. Verde’s late free kick appeared to deflect on the wall, taking goalkeeper Diego Lopez out of play.

It was the first league goal for Verde, who is playing on loan from Roma.

Promoted Valladolid, owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo, had won four straight and could have joined Barcelona at the top had it won the home match. It has 16 points and is in sixth place. The team’s next league game is at Real Madrid.

Espanyol hasn’t lost since a 1-0 defeat against Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the fifth round.

Valladolid is playing in the first division for the first time since 2013-14. Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner and a former Madrid and Barcelona striker, became a majority stakeholder in the club this season.

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