Sports: Madrid wins, Atlético loses ahead of CL deciders

Style clash as Guardiola, Simeone meet in Champions League

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  Madrid wins, Atlético loses ahead of CL deciders © Provided by The Canadian Press

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid consolidated its already commanding lead at the top of the Spanish league with a 2-0 win over Getafe on Saturday, ahead of a week in which it hopes to finish off Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinals.

Casemiro put Madrid ahead in the 38th minute with his first goal of the season. Lucas Vázquez added a second goal against toothless Getafe in the 68th.

Madrid restored its lead to 12 points over second-place Sevilla, with Barcelona 15 points back having played two games fewer than Madrid. Madrid, the record 13-time European champion, hosts titleholder Chelsea on Tuesday in their second leg with a 3-1 advantage from their first meeting.

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Atlético Madrid lost 1-0 at Mallorca as Diego Simeone’s side stumbled again after its defeat at Manchester City.

Atlético will now have to regroup before it hosts City on Wednesday needing to overturn a 1-0 first-leg loss to Pep Guardiola’s side to reach the Champions League's final four.

BALE AT BERNABÉU

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti even found the moment to let Gareth Bale play his first minutes at the Santiago Bernabéu since Feb. 2020 as a substitute for Karim Benzema.

Benzema's scoring run of seven straight games — including back-to-back Champions League hat tricks — finally ended and he was given a standing ovation when he came off in the 74th. Those cheers turned to jeers for Bale, who had long lost the support of many Madrid fans even before he spent last season on loan at Tottenham. Bale’s six previous appearances this season had all come on the road.

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On Friday, Ancelotti said that he hopes Bale has an honorable exit from the club that he helped to win four European Cups. Bale, whose contract expires at the end of the season, smiled — perhaps ironically — as the abuse rained down.

“Every player who goes on the field is important,” Madrid's Marcelo said about Bale's hostile reception. “We are playing for a lot this season and we need to be all united and for our fans to help us. It is a bit sad, but we have to go out there and play and give it our all for our club.”

Ancelotti left Luka Modric and Toni Kroos on the bench to rest them for Chelsea. Federico Valverde and 19-year-old Eduardo Camavinga took their spots in midfield alongside Casemiro. Marcelo got a now rare start at left back after Ancelotti said that Ferland Mendy needed more rest and left him off his squad.

Casemiro scored from a cross by Vinícius Júnior, who used the outside edge of his right boot to drop a pass into the area where both Benzema and Casemiro arrived. The pass was just too high for Benzema, but Casemiro charged in behind to head home.

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Vázquez got Madrid's second after his quick exchange of passes with Rodrygo freed him inside the box to fire home.


Gallery: The best matches in the history of the UEFA Champions League (Espresso)

Champions League matches between bitter Premier League rivals are usually entertaining, and the quarter-finals second leg tilt between Chelsea and Liverpool in 2009 exceeded all expectations. Chelsea led 3-1 after the first leg, but Liverpool grabbed the momentum with goals from Fábio Aurélio and Xabi Alonso to take a 2-0 lead (3-3 aggregate) at the half. After Didier Drogba and Alex both scored in the span of six minutes early in the second half, Frank Lampard put the Blues ahead 3-2 (6-3 on aggregate). However, Lucas and Dirk Kuyt scored a minute apart with seven minutes of normal time remaining, meaning the Reds needed one more goal to go through on away goals. Lampard would ensure that didn’t come to pass, though, by striking it in off both posts in the 89th to make it 4-4, and send Chelsea through to the semi-finals 7-5 on aggregate.

Getafe striker Enes Unal hit the post in injury time for the visitors’ only threat.

Madrid has won eight of its last nine games overall. The only blip was a 4-0 loss to Barcelona in a match that Benzema missed due to injury.

ATLÉTICO SLIPS

Mallorca forward Vedat Muriqi scored the game’s only goal in the 68th when he converted a penalty kick earned by Pablo Maffeo after he was fouled by Atlético defender Reinildo Mandava. Muriqi rifled the penalty into the top right corner, well beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

Atlético, which had been playing its best soccer of the season until recently, generated very little in attack as its run of six straight victories in the domestic league came to an end. Atlético was left in fourth place.

“Surely the game (at City) took its toll, we were a bit tired and didn’t play the game we wanted to,” Oblak said. “Now we have to play City again and we will have to do more to win the game on Wednesday.”

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Mallorca midfielder Iddrisu Baba had to be carried off on a stretcher in stoppage time after he was hit in the head by a ball powerfully struck by Thomas Lemar. The club said that Baba was fine but had been taken to the hospital for observation.

Mallorca ended a run of seven consecutive losses, including a 1-0 defeat to Getafe in coach Javier Aguirre’s debut last round. The Balearic Island club escaped the relegation zone, with Cádiz taking its place in the bottom three after losing 2-1 to fifth-place Real Betis.

VILLARREAL ROTATES

Unai Emery rested all his starters from Villarreal’s 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich in a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao, as the coach prioritized his team's second meeting with the German giant.

Emery only sent on first-choice strikers Gerard Moreno and Arnaut Danjuma, along with three other regular starters, after an hour.

Villarreal left back Alfonso Pedraza canceled out Raúl García’s opener for Bilbao in the 60th.

Villarreal, which stayed in seventh place, visits Munich on Tuesday.

SUBSTITUTES RESPOND

Betis substitutes Cristian Tello and Borja Iglesias scored to lead the comeback at Cádiz and move one point behind Atlético and third-place Barcelona.

Manuel Pellegrini sent on Iglesias and Tello after Iván Alejo put Cádiz ahead in the 58th. Tello equalized in the 78th before Iglesias earned and scored a penalty for the winner with five minutes remaining.

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Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press

Eliminated by City, Atlético must ensure return to Champions .
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Despite being reduced to 10 men and stymied in attack, Atlético Madrid still had a last-gasp chance to send its ill-humored Champions League quarterfinal against Manchester City into extra time. But when the ball fell to Ángel Correa in the area, the forward steered his injury-time shot right at the gloves of Ederson. City’s goalkeeper ensured a scoreless draw in Madrid on Wednesday and made good on the English side’s 1-0 first-leg win. Atlético can't linger in disappointment for long. It must salvage what it can from the dwindling season by making sure it returns to Europe’s top club competition with a top-four finish in the Spanish league.

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