La Liga : Atletico Madrid return to action with win; Betis-Athletic, Girona-Rayo end in draws
Madrid (Spain) : Atletico Madrid moved back into the top four in La Liga with a 2-0 win at home to bottom-of-the-table Elche as they returned to action after the five-week World Cup break. Goals from Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata gave Atletico three points against a rival that has not won all season with just four points but who gave Diego Simeone’s side plenty of problems on Thursday night.
Elche were looking comfortable in the first half until the last minute when Gonzalo Verdu was shown a direct red card for bringing down Morata on the edge of the area, with the VAR advising that he had frustrated a clear scoring chance.
Things were evened up seven minutes after the break when Mario Hermoso was sent off for a second yellow card, but in the 55th minute, Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix combined for the latter to score a simple finish.
Morata doubled the lead in the 73rd minute with a shot that took a slight deflection to take it past Elche keeper Edgar Badia. Betis and Athletic Club Bilbao drew an intense game between two sides battling to qualify for Europe, 0-0, with Athletic’s Spain international keeper, Unai Simon making three saves to deny Betis in a game in which both sides had their moments of control, reports Xinhua.
Betis ended the game with 10 men after Luiz Felipe was sent off for a bad challenge on Iker Muniain. Two penalties saved a point for Girona at home to Rayo Vallecano, who twice took the lead thanks to Sergio Camello and Isi Palazon.
Camello latched onto a poor backpass to open the scoring in the first minute, while Isi scored with a powerful shot in the 61st minute. Valentin Castellano levelled for Girona just after the half-hour after he had been fouled, while Samuel Saiz netted another penalty 20 minutes from time after a questionable handball.
Real Madrid visit Valladolid on Friday, while FC Barcelona face Espanyol in the Barcelona derby on Saturday at lunchtime.