BARCELONA (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid suffered a first defeat in 13 games in all competitions as they lost 1-0 at home to Villarreal on Tuesday after a late strike from substitute Roberto Soriano.
The former Sampdoria forward netted for the 10th time in all competitions when he knocked in a cross from fellow substitute Cedric Bakambu in the 82nd minute after an error from Filipe Luis allowed the visitors to break quickly down the right hand side.
Villarreal have the second best defensive record in the league after Atletico but it took a series of fine saves from their goalkeeper Andres Fernandez to thwart Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa and Nicolas Gaitan in either half before Soriano put the visitors ahead.
Atletico winger Yannick Carrasco was forced off in the 72nd minute with a sprained collarbone after clashing with Villarreal defender Antonio Rukavina, putting his participation in next week’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Real Madrid in doubt.
Atletico remain third in the standings although Sevilla can move level with them on 68 points in the last automatic Champions League spot if they beat Celta Vigo on Thursday. Villarreal are fifth on 60 points and are the only team to beat Atletico home and away this campaign.
“We tried to score every way possible, playing on the floor, playing long balls, breaking into space but it wasn’t to be, and then they scored on a counterattack,” Atletico midfielder Koke told reporters.
“We knew what they came here to do, to waste time and wait for one chance. Once they went ahead it was more difficult. They’ve been playing this way for the last few years and it’s working well for them.”
Tony Adams saw his wretched start to management in Spain continue as his Granada side edged closer towards relegation from La Liga with a 2-0 defeat at home to Malaga, their third straight defeat under the former England defender.
Former Barcelona forward Sandro Ramirez continued his impressive first season with Malaga by scoring twice, at the start and the end of the second half, taking his tally to 12 league goals in 24 starts.
Ramirez cracked in the opener in the 47th minute from outside the box when Granada failed to clear their lines, then prompted a mass walk-out by forlorn home fans in the Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium by arrowing into the far corner in the 91st.
Granada have scored no goals and conceded seven in three games since former Arsenal hero Adams swapped the sporting director role to become head coach on April 10, succeeding Lucas Alcaraz to become their third manager of the season.
“In the first few minutes we played well but then we lost our confidence. These players have little experience and it’s difficult for them to motivate themselves when their morale is so low,” Adams said.
Granada are 19th on 20 points with four games left of the campaign, seven points adrift of Leganes, who occupy the final place outside the relegation zone and who can extend their lead over Adams’ side to 10 when they visit Las Palmas on Wednesday.
Sporting Gijon, in 18th, missed the chance to move provisionally one point behind Leganes as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Espanyol to edge up to 24 points.
Leaders Barcelona host Osasuna on Wednesday and second-placed Real Madrid, who are level on 75 points with the Catalans, visit Deportivo La Coruna.
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ian Chadband and Toby Davis