Late winner keeps Levante in position to avoid relegation
MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the 650th time in his career on Sunday but Antoine Griezmann responded with a goal of his own to leave Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid even in a city derby that allowed Barcelona to move closer to the Spanish league title.
Atletico held Real Madrid 1-1 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to keep a four-point lead over its city rival in the fight for second place in the Spanish league.
The result benefited league leader Barcelona, which defeated Leganes 3-1 on Saturday with a hat trick by Lionel Messi to stay 11 points in front of Atletico at the top with seven matches left.
Atletico won La Liga in 2013-14 but has finished third behind either Barcelona or Real Madrid in all other years since 2012-13, which was the team’s first full season under coach Diego Simeone.
”I’m not happy because we wanted to win, we wanted the three points to try to stay close to Barcelona,” Simeone said. ”We needed more. Our goal is always to try to do the best we can against the powerhouses of Real Madrid and Barcelona. As an Atletico fan I would have been proud of how we have been competing against them.”
Madrid hasn’t finished worse than second since 2014, when it trailed Atletico and Barcelona.
Ronaldo opened the scoring with his 650th career goal – for clubs and country – early in the second half with a shot from near the far post after a long cross by Gareth Bale from the left flank.
Griezmann equalized less than five minutes later with a strike from near the penalty spot after a move started by Vitolo inside the area.
”We deserved more, it’s a shame,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. ”But in the end we also could have lost the match. This is how it goes in football.”
Ronaldo has scored 20 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions, including his acclaimed bicycle kick in the 3-0 first-leg win at Juventus in the Champions League quarterfinals midweek.
Zidane rested some of his regular starters ahead of the return leg against Juventus on Wednesday at Bernabeu, including midfielders Luka Modric and Casemiro. Striker Karim Benzema also started from the bench, replacing Ronaldo in the 64th.
Atletico hasn’t lost at Bernabeu in five seasons now in the Spanish league.
Real Madrid, which had won six in a row, had the most dangerous scoring chances throughout. But the hosts brought out a great performance by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who made one of his best saves on a last-minute free kick taken by Sergio Ramos.
”Oblak is a great player, he has been showing it game after game,” Zidane said.
Marcelo had a good opportunity for Real Madrid in the first half with a curling shot that struck the crossbar.
Atletico striker Diego Costa caused most of the problems for Real Madrid early on. He had a goal disallowed for a foul on Ramos before finding the net from inside the area.
HUGE WIN FOR LEVANTE
Las Palmas is in second-to-last place and two points behind Deportivo La Coruna, which on Friday earned its first win in nine matches under coach Clarence Seedorf by defeating last-place Malaga 3-2 at home.
Levante opened the scoring at Ciutat de Valencia Stadium with a goal by Jorge ”Koke” Andujar in the 35th, but David Garcia equalized in the 50th before Campana calmly found the far corner for the winner in a late breakaway for the hosts.
Levante’s winner came while the team played with 10 men as Koke was sent off for a hard foul in the 86th. Levante also had Ruben Rochina ejected in the fourth minute of injury time.
Levante played in the second division last year, following six straight seasons in the top flight.
Las Palmas, whose last league win came against Malaga 10 games ago, was in the second tier for the last time in the 2014-15 season.
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