Atletico stun Barca to blow title race open
MADRID: Atletico Madrid blew the Spanish League race wide open by defeating previously unbeaten leaders Barcelona 2-1 on Sunday.
Barca's lead over title rivals Real Madrid was reduced to two points after Pep Guardiola's defensively depleted side crashed to defeat in the Spanish capital. Missing the injured Eric Abidal, Dani Alves, Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Yaya Toure, along with Rafa Marquez and Gerard Pique suspended, Barca struggled from the start while Seydou Keita soon limped off to add to their problems.
Diego Forlan put Atletico ahead from an excellent Jose Antonio Reyes pass that sliced the defence wide open before Sergio Aguero missed an excellent chance to add to the lead. A well-placed Simao free-kick did extend the home side's advantage before Barca began to find their feet.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulled a goal back with a volley but while Barca pressed throughout the second half they could not find the equaliser and succumbed to their first defeat of the season.
Earlier, a Luis Fabiano goal gave Sevilla a 1-0 win over Osasuna and lifted them into a Champions League place. Sevilla leapfrogged Mallorca into fourth place after a workmanlike performance. Deportivo La Coruna's European hopes were dealt a blow as they were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Espanyol. Espanyol went ahead through Joan Verdu after 38 minutes but it was the expulsion of Antonio Tomas that really turned the game in the favour of the home side. He was shown a red card for elbowing Francisco Chica after the break and Jose Callejon soon added a crucial second goal.
Getafe lost the chance to move to within a point of Deportivo in sixth when they drew 2-2 against Almeria as Valladolid drew 1-1 against Zaragoza in a crucial relegation battle. Malaga gave their own survival hopes a boost with a comprehensive 3-0 win away at Racing Santander.
London: Aston Villa needed a late goal from Stiliyan Petrov to rescue a 2-2 draw at cash-strapped Championship club Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fifth round, while Tottenham were held to a 1-1 draw at Bolton on Sunday.
Palace have spent much of the last month in turmoil after going into administration and being hit with a 10-point penalty by the Football League, but the south London club put their off-field problems to one side and almost claimed a famous victory.
Elsewhere, Tottenham wasted a chance to book their place in the last eight after Tom Huddlestone's second half penalty was saved by Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Bolton had gone in front through Kevin Davies in the 34th minute, but Jermain Defoe levelled in the 61st minute before Jasskelainen's penalty stop secured a replay at White Hart Lane. At Craven Cottage, Fulham were too strong for League Two Notts County, winning 4-0.