Atletico lead in Spain after Madrid, Barcelona stumble
Atletico Madrid won early yesterday and then watched a humbling defeat for Barcelona, and yet another disappointing draw by Real Madrid, to lead the Spanish league for the first time this season.
Atletico dominated in a 2-0 win at Valencia, while Madrid drew 1-1 at home with Eibar for their fourth-consecutive draw, and Barcelona conceded three goals in 11 minutes in the first half in a 4-3 loss at Celta Vigo. The crucial fourth goal was an embarrassing mistake by goalkeeper Marc-AndrÈ ter Stegen.
The results left Diego Simeone's team in the lead with 15 points from seven matches. Madrid also have 15 points, but an inferior goal difference.
Barcelona, still without the injured Lionel Messi, stayed on 13 points after their second league loss. They are one point behind third-placed Sevilla, which defeated Alaves 2-1 on Saturday.
Pique scored twice and Neymar once as Barcelona came close to rallying from the three-goal deficit, but the goalkeeper's mistake with the game at 3-2 dampened the team's chances.
Instead of sending the ball into attack, the German goalkeeper tried to pass it to a defender, but Celta midfielder Pablo Hernandez timed his jump perfectly and the ball struck his head and hit the far post before crossing the line.
"We know Marc is very good with his feet; a lot of our plays begin with him," Pique said. "Everybody makes mistakes, but we know him well and he won't be affected by that."
REAL MADRID 1, EIBAR 1
Midfielder Fran Rico put Eibar ahead with a header in the sixth minute and Gareth Bale equalised from close range in the 17th, but Madrid were not able to capitalise on their scoring chances for the rest of the match, prompting jeers from fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
VALENCIA 0, ATLETICO 2
Two penalty saves by Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves were not enough to stop Atletico Madrid.
Antoine Griezmann scored in the 63rd minute and Kevin Gameiro in injury time to give Atletico the win at Valencia despite Alves' saves in each half.
"The two penalties mean nothing to me," Alves said. "I wanted to win the match."