After Zinedine Zidane got some relief seeing Real Madrid end a winless streak in La Liga, Ronald Koeman was back under fire after another disappointing Barcelona loss.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, won again to take the league lead for the first time this season.
Real Madrid edged Sevilla 1-0 Saturday for its first win after three straight league setbacks, while Atletico beat Valladolid 2-0 to win its seventh straight league game and Barcelona lost 2-1 at promoted Cadiz to stay far from the top.
Atletico moved two points ahead of Real Sociedad, which visits Alaves on Sunday and has played one game more than Atletico.
Third-place Real Madrid is six points off the lead and also has played one extra game compared to Simeone’s team. Seventh-place Barcelona is now 12 points back.
"This was a huge step backward for us in the fight for the league title,” Koeman said. “It’s disappointing. A difference of 12 points against a team like Atletico is a lot.”
Atletico, which has already beaten Barcelona this season, visits Real Madrid next weekend.
Barcelona lost in the league for the fourth time this season despite the return of Lionel Messi, who had been rested in the team’s Champions League midweek match.
Barcelona was trying to win its fourth consecutive match in all competitions but paid the price for a defensive mistake in the second half.
Clement Lenglet misplayed a ball inside the area and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen wasn’t able to fully clear it, allowing Alvaro Negredo to easily find the open net and give Cadiz the win in the 63rd.
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Cadiz had opened the scoring with Alvaro Gimenez Candela following an eighth-minute corner kick, and Barcelona equalized in the 58th with an own-goal by Pedro Alcala while he tried to block a cross by Jordi Alba.
Cadiz, which was yet to win at home this season, moved to fifth place.
Thomas Lemar scored with a tight-angled shot in the 56th and Marcos Llorente added to the lead after a nice run in the 72nd to keep Atletico’s winning streak in the league.
The team has conceded only two goals in 10 league games and and remains the only unbeaten side in the competition.
The match in Madrid marked the return of Luis Suarez, who hadn’t played with Atletico since November because of the coronavirus. The former Barcelona striker had tested positive for COVID-19 while with Uruguay’s national team.
Valladolid was winless in its first eight matches but was coming off two victories and a draw in its last three games. The team owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo is 19th in the 20-team standings.
Real Madrid's relief
A second-half own-goal by Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine “Bono” Bounou gave Madrid victory at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
"The last few days weren’t easy,” Zidane said. “The team responded well and these three points are very important for us.”
Madrid arrived in Seville with Zidane under pressure after the team had won only one of its last five matches in all competitions. It had lost two of its last three league games.
"This victory is very important to restore our confidence,” Vinicius Junior said. “We had played well in other matches but couldn’t get the victory. This has been a different season and sometimes it’s difficult to get going. We have to keep improving.”
Madrid and Sevilla were coming off tough losses in the Champions League - Madrid lost 2-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, while Sevilla was routed 4-0 at home by Chelsea on Wednesday.
Sevilla, which dropped to sixth place, had won three straight in the league, including the last two at home.
Madrid had never gone four straight matches without a win in the league under Zidane.
Vinicius Junior helped put Madrid on the board after a cross by Ferland Mendy from the left flank in the 55th. The Brazilian forward redirected the ball with a soft touch and it hit Bono before going into the goal.
Levante wins again
Levante won 3-0 at home against Getafe, which finished the match with nine men after the sending off of Josş Manuel “Chema” Rodrţguez in the seventh minute and Djene Dakoman in the 77th.
Levante, which had drawn its last five matches 1-1 and was in the relegation zone, scored with Roger Marti in the fifth minute, Dani Gomez in the 17th and Jorge de Frutos in the 57th. The club from Valencia hadn’t won in eight straight matches.
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