Real rally to beat Atletico

MADRID: Real Madrid came from behind to defeat neighbours Atletico 3-2 in an enthralling derby at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday and nudge Barcelona off the top of the Spanish League table.

Jose Antonio Reyes fired Atletico into a 10th minute lead but three goals in 17 minutes turned the game on its head with summer signings Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa proving two unlikely scorers before Gonzalo Higuain bagged his 23rd of the season. Diego Forlan scored a penalty to give the visitors hope five minutes later but Real held on for a 15th consecutive league home win to move back above Barcelona on goal difference. For Atletico their derby jinx continues and they have not beaten Real since a 3-1 win way back in October 1999 when Claudio Ranieri was in charge and lie five points off the top six.

Elsewhere, new Sevilla coach Antonio Alvarez had a debut to forget as his side crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Villarreal, missing the opportunity to move above Real Mallorca into fourth. Alvarez took over from Manolo Jimenez, sacked on Tuesday, but got off to a horrible start as the visitors fell two goals behind after just 17 minutes and, despite an improved second half, could not find a way back into the match.

Victory moves Villarreal to within two points of the top six. Sevilla sit two points behind Mallorca in fifth having failed to win any of their last six league matches and they face a real fight to qualify for next season's Champions League. It has been a nightmare March for Sevilla with a last-16 exit from the Champions League to CSKA Moscow, no wins in the league and the sacking of Jimenez, who had guided the club to this season's King's Cup final.

Italian Serie A

ROME: AC Milan missed out on the chance to close the gap on leaders Inter Milan to a single point as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Lazio at the San Siro on Sunday.

Earlier, Juventus brushed off an attack on their team bus by their own fans to beat Atalanta 2-1 at Turin's Stadio Olimpico and keep alive their hopes of a top-four finish. Following AS Roma's 2-1 win over Inter on Saturday, Milan knew they could join the capital based team a point behind their city rivals if they won but the draw leaves them third and three points off top. It was also their third straight league game without a win and was met with boos at the final whistle while, for Lazio, the point was a great boost in their fight against relegation.

Despite missing the likes of Ronaldinho, Pato, David Beckham, Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta, Milan took the 18th minute lead. Midfielder Mathieu Flamini broke into the Lazio area and collided with Aleksandar Kolarov. The referee pointed to the spot with Marco Borriello converting high to Fernando Muslera's left.

But thereafter the visitors who took charge and threatened the most. They were deservedly level on 32 minutes when Luca Antonini failed to deal with Cristian Ledesma's chip into the box, prodding his weak clearance against Stefano Mauri with the ball falling invitingly to Stephan Lichtsteiner to shoot home.