Atletico loses, misses chance to clinch 2nd place in La Liga | News Coverage from USA

Atletico loses, misses chance to clinch 2nd place in La Liga

MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid lost to Espanyol 3-0 in the Spanish league on Saturday, missing a chance to secure second place.

A draw would have been enough for Atletico but it conceded at the end of the first half and twice after halftime in the away loss to mid-table Espanyol.

Atletico can still clinch a runner-up finish this weekend if third-placed Real Madrid loses or draws against Villarreal on Sunday.

Real Madrid is nine points behind Atletico with three games left, but it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker between the city rivals.

“We still need a point, but it’s still up to us to earn this point and finish second,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “We have to appreciate the value of a second-place finish in this league.”

Atletico is seeking consecutive top-two finishes in the Spanish league for the first time since 1973-74. That was also the last time Real Madrid finished out of the top two in consecutive years.

Espanyol, unbeaten in seven matches, moved to eighth in the standings with the victory at RCDE Stadium in Barcelona, staying in contention for a Europa League spot.

The hosts opened the scoring with an own-goal by Atletico defender Diego Godin just before halftime, then striker Borja Iglesias sealed the victory with goals in the 52nd and 89th minutes.

Simeone’s team hadn’t conceded three goals in a match since March, in a 3-0 loss at Juventus in the Champions League.

“We played a good first half but we weren’t ourselves after conceding the own-goal,” Atletico midfielder Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion said. “That was not the Atletico we are used to seeing.”

LEVANTE’S RELIEF

In the fight against relegation, Levante routed Rayo Vallecano 4-1 at home to move five points clear of the danger area.

Rayo Vallecano, which was coming off a win over Real Madrid, stayed second-to-last in the standings, with few chances of escaping demotion.

Barcelona, which clinched its 26th league title last weekend, visits relegation-threatened Celta Vigo later on Saturday.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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