La Liga Roundup, Feb. 14

BY foxsports • February 14, 2010

Barcelona suffered its first league defeat of the season on Sunday, losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid to blow the title race wide open.

Atletico's Jose Antonio Reyes dribbled past two men before sending a long pass through for Diego Forlan, who shot first time past Victor Valdes in the 10th minute.

Simao Sabrosa scored Atletico's second when he curled a freekick into the right-hand corner of the net in the 23rd minute, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic volleyed in unmarked at the far post from a Barcelona corner just four minutes later.

Barcelona remains top, on 55 points from 22 matches, but Real Madrid, which beat Xerez 3-0 on Saturday, is only two points behind. Atletico is 11th on 27 points.

"Atletico played a good game, above all in defense," said Valdes. "In this stadium, it's always difficult for us."

Earlier Sunday, Luis Fabiano scored the winner as Sevilla beat Osasuna 1-0.

In the 35th minute Diego Capel raced down the left wing, cut inside and crossed for the Brazil striker to score with a powerful low header.

Sevilla has 39 points and replaces Mallorca in fourth position.

With several first-choice defenders unavailable due to supension and injuries, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola played Jeffren Suarez and Maxwell as full backs with Gabriel Milito and Carles Puyol in central defense.

Atletico went into the game at its Calderon Stadium on the back of having reached the Copa del Rey final in midweek.

"We were playing the best team in the world," said Sabrosa. "We knew exactly what we had to do in terms of tactics."

In a frenetic game, Barcelona tested the Atletico defense in the opening minute, Lionel Messi looping a ball through for Ibrahimovic which goalkeeper David de Gea only just managed to control.

Midfielder Seydou Keita suffered a muscle strain almost immediately and Pedro Rodriguez replaced him in the eighth minute. Barcelona technical secretary Txiki Beguiristain said the player could be out for up to four weeks.

Barcelona enjoyed more of the possession, although it rarely settled into its quick passing game due to Atletico's pressure. The hosts looked dangerous on the break, with Sergio Aguero outstanding alongside Forlan in attack.

The Argentina forward looked certain to score when he was put through in the 18th minute although he chose to pass to Forlan instead and Puyol intercepted. Aguero had another chance when he forced a save from Valdes with an effort from inside the area that rebounded off Ibrahimovic. He then had a shot saved again after being sent through by Tomas Ujfalusi.

Ibrahimovic tested De Gea moments later, drawing a save after jigging past his marker and shooting low.

Aguero continued to torment Barcelona throughout the second half and Puyol had to make a last ditch tackle on him as the striker charged into the penalty area.

In the 79th minute, Barcelona striker Bojan Krkic replaced Xavi Hernandez, who had been unusually subdued.

With the clock ticking down, Messi shot wide and his team's hopes of an equalizer vanished.

"I don't have too many complaints to make about the team," Guardiola said. He added that Barcelona lost "partly because we weren't always well positioned when we lost the ball - we weren't always quite right - but partly also because of the way Atletico Madrid played."

Regarding the title race, the coach said: "It depends on (Real Madrid) but it also depends on us if they are now two points away."

Sevilla reached the final of the Copa del Rey in midweek after eliminating Getafe and the home side lacked energy at its Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Osasuna looked like equalizing several times, with Walter Pandiani heading just wide in the 18th minute and Andres Palop having to save in the 28th when Javier Camunas shot from wide on the left.

Sevilla hit back when Capel fed Luis Fabiano in the 20th, Ricardo Lopez saving the Brazil forward's shot.

Lopez had to save again moments later when Renato had a low shot after being set up by Frederic Kanoute.

In the 55th minute, Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo replaced the limping Kanoute in attack and Diego Perotti came on for Capel in the 83rd.

Jose Maria Callejon scored one goal and set up another as Espanyol beat 10-man Deportivo La Coruna 2-0.

In the 39th, Callejon dribbled down the right and crossed for Joan Verdu to tap in at the near post.

Callejon then made some space at the edge of the area on the hour mark and fired home. He dedicated the goal to Daniel Jarque, his former teammate and captain who died last year after suffering a heart attack.

The result lifts Espanyol into 11th place on 26 points. La Coruna remains sixth on 35 points.

Malaga beat Racing Santander 3-0 with goals from Weligton, Salvador Caicedo and Victor Obinna. Santander's Mohamed Tchite was sent off in the 79th minute for dissent.

Almeria's Fernando Soriano scored an injury-time goal to draw 2-2 with Getafe and Valladolid drew 1-1 with Zaragoza.

Also, Sporting Gijon and Valencia drew 1-1 and Villarreal beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1.

At the Cornella-El Prat Stadium, La Coruna's Ivan Perez came close twice in the first half, driving wide in the eighth minute before shooting over in the 33rd when trying to surprise goalkeeper Carlos Kameni, before Verdu struck.

Espanyol's Ivan Alonso had the ball in the net in the 57th minute, only to have the strike ruled out for offside.

La Coruna's Antonio Tomas was dismissed in the 55th minute for elbowing Francisco Chica in the face, shortly before Callejon scored Espanyol's second.

However, La Coruna had a clear chance to score when Rodolfo Bodipo was put through with only the 'keeper to beat, but Kameni anticipated his shot.

On Monday it's Tenerife vs. Mallorca.


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