MADRID (AP) – Needing a win to stay in control of the Spanish league, Atletico Madrid stumbled again on Sunday with a 2-1 loss to Athletic Bilbao, giving Barcelona a chance to take over the lead.
Even Luis Suarez and Joao Felix returning was not enough for Diego Simeone’s team that could fall to second on Thursday when Barcelona plays eighth-place Granada at home.
Earlier on Sunday Atletico received pressure as Barcelona came from behind to surprisingly win 2-1 at Villareal, getting within two points with a game in hand. Both goals were scored by Antoine Greizmann for the Catalan club.
In two rounds’ time Atletico will visit Barcelona.
“We did all we could,” Atletico captain Koke Resurreccion said. “We will keep fighting until the end. We have five matches left and we know that we can win them.”
On Saturday the score was held as 0-0 in the match between the defending champion Real Madrid and Real Betis.
Atletico had two consecutive wins to stay at the top. However they couldn’t pull through priorly conceding at Athletics San Mames Stadium. In the eighth minute Alex Berenguer started scoring for the hosts.
Athletico evenned with a header by Stefan Savic off a corner kick in the 77th.However Inigo Martinez’s header in the 86th confirmed victory for 10th place Athletic, which lost seven consecutive matches in every competition. Losing to Barcelona at Copa del Rey final was one of it’s setbacks.
After taking care of injuries in the last few weeks Suarez and Felix returned. They came off the bench early in the second half but couldny carry Atletico to victory. Also returning from injury was Midfielder Thomas Lemar.
GREIZMANN LEADS BARCA
Greizmann scored twice in the match’s first half. Meanwhile Barcelona reunited to beat Villareal and stay near to the top.
Manu Trigueros received a red card for dangerously tackling Lionel Messi before the 65th minute from which Villareal played with 10 men.
Trigueros foot that hit Messi’s left leg was up which slid into the Argentine’s lower shin. Messi was in pain that he required medical attention but was able to return.
The hosts unfolded the scoring with Samu Chukwueze at the 26th, but Greizmann equalized in the 28th and netted the winner in the 35th.
Villareal, that hosts Arsenal during the first leg of the Europa League semifinals on Thursday, has lost three of it’s last four league matches.