Atletico dumped out of Copa, blow for Sevilla in La Liga title race

Published January 21, 2022
SAN SEBASTIAN: Atletico Madrid’s Matheus Cunha (C) vies with Real Sociedad goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro during their Copa del Rey round-of-16 match at the Anoeta Stadium.—AFP
SAN SEBASTIAN: Atletico Madrid’s Matheus Cunha (C) vies with Real Sociedad goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro during their Copa del Rey round-of-16 match at the Anoeta Stadium.—AFP

MADRID: Atletico Madrid were eliminated by Real Sociedad in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, with the 2-0 defeat adding to their poor run and increasing the pressure on coach Diego Simeone.

In La Liga, Sevilla missed a chance to move closer to leaders Real Madrid after being held 1-1 at Valencia.

Atletico’s setback against Sociedad came less than a week after they fell to Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals of the Super Copa de Espana in Saudi Arabia.

Simeone’s team is also struggling in La Liga, having lost four of its last six games in the competition and dropping 16 points behind Real with a game in hand. Atltico won the title last season for the first time since 2014.

Criticism over Simeone continues to increase as the team fails to put an end to its struggles.

“The only way we can improve is to keep the players’ confidence high in these moments when things are not going well,” Simeone said.

Sociedad, who won the Copa title in 2020, took the lead in the 33rd minute from a superb header by Adnan Januzaj, who jumped between three defenders to nod the ball into the bottom-left corner of Jan Oblak’s goal.

The hosts extended their lead after a defensive mistake in the second half, when Mikel Oyarzabal robbed the ball from Felipe and freed Alexander Sorloth to run into the box and rifle a shot home from close range.

Second-placed Sevilla couldn’t manage more than a draw at Valencia, missing an opportunity to get within two points of Real. They moved on to 45 points from 21 games, four points behind Real and eight ahead of Betis in third.

Julen Lopetegui’s team took the lead with an own-goal from Mouctar Diakhaby in the seventh minute but the hosts equalised through an opportunist header by Goncalo Guedes from the edge of the six-yard box just before halftime.

Valencia, sitting in ninth place and coming off two straight league losses, had defender Jose Luis Gaya sent off for a hard foul in the 89th.

Hugo Mallo and Santi Mina scored first-half goals as Celta Vigo beat Osasuna 2-0 to win two in a row at home for the first time this season.

Celta moved to 12th place, immediately above Osasuna.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2022

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