Atletico Madrid lose 1-0 to Villarreal at home
MADRID: Atletico Madrid's 11-game unbeaten streak came to an end on Tuesday after it squandered a series of chances and then conceded a late goal to lose 1-0 at home to Villarreal in the Spanish league.
Substitute Roberto Soriano netted the winner from close range after a breakaway in the 82nd minute at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.
"We tried to score every possible way but it just wasn't meant to be," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "We couldn't capitalize on our chances and they executed well in the counterattack and ended winning the match."
The win kept fifth-place Villarreal in contention for the European qualification spots and left Atletico in danger of losing third place.
Atletico has 68 points, only three ahead of Sevilla, which is at home to Celta Vigo on Thursday. Villarreal is five points behind Sevilla, but four in front of sixth-place Athletic Bilbao, which hosts Real Betis on Thursday.
"We are still in third place and we still only depend on ourselves," Atletico midfielder Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion said.
The top four clubs qualify for the Champions League, while the teams in fifth and sixth places will play in the Europa League.
Atletico hadn't lost in all competitions since a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona at the Calderon in February. It had won seven of its last nine league games., and drawn against Deportivo La Coruna and Real Madrid.
Soriano's winner came after Atletico left back Luis Filipe lost control of the ball near the touchline and gave it away to Cedric Bakambu, who made a run down the right side before finding Soriano in front of the goal.
"We showed that when we play our best we can challenge great teams like Atletico," Soriano said. "We have to keep fighting to stay in contention for the European competitions."
Atletico had been in control from the start and had most of the scoring chances. One of its best opportunities came when Nicolas Gaitan broke free from his markers for a one-on-one in the 54th minute, but Villarreal goalkeeper Andres Fernandez made a great save.
Atletico, the 2014 league champions, visits Las Palmas on Saturday, and next week it faces city rival Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals. The first leg is next Tuesday at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Madrid beat Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016.
Yannick Carrasco became a concern for the Champions League after leaving Tuesday's match in the 72nd with an apparent right shoulder injury.
Madrid and Barcelona are tied at the top with 75 points each, but Madrid has a game in hand.
Two-time defending champion Barcelona hosts last-place Osasuna on Wednesday, and Madrid plays at Deportivo La Coruna.
SPORTING GIJON 1, ESPANYOL 1
Sporting Gijon couldn't manage more than a home draw against Espanyol in another setback in its fight against relegation.
It was the sixth game in a row without a win for Sporting, which remained 18th in the 20-team standings, three points from salvation.
Espanyol remained ninth.
GRANADA 0, MALAGA 2
Granada moved a step closer to being relegated after the home loss against Malaga.
The result left the team from southern Spain in second-to-last place, seven points from the first team outside the drop zone.
Granada, which has played six straight seasons in the top flight, has lost eight of its last nine games. It hasn't scored any goals and has lost all three matches since former Arsenal captain Tony Adams took over as coach.
Sandro scored both goals for Malaga, which Malaga moved to 14th with the victory, its fourth in five matches.