Madrid, Dec 21 (IANS) Atletico Madrid lost 0-1 to Malaga and missed their chance to grab leadership of the La Liga football championship given Barcelona’s preoccupation with the Club world Cup in Japan. The only goal of the match between Atletico Madrid and Malaga was scored off a shot by Brazilian striker Charles at the 82nd minute on Sunday, reports Efe. The expulsion of Gabi Fernandez on two yellow cards at the 56th minute added to Atletico’s woes. Malaga, who had also stumped Argentine Diego Simeone’s team in the first half, dominated the game in the second half with one extra man as Atletico failed to score, including an attempt by Fernando Torres that was saved by Carlos Kameni. Real Madrid, on the other hand, moved to 33 points — two points behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid following a phenomenal win against Rayo Vallecano, who pulled ahead of their opponent before the expulsions of Roberto Roman ‘Tito’ and Raul Baena at the 14th and 28th minute respectively that reduced the team to nine players and changed the tide of the game.
Celta Vigo and Villarreal continued to fight for fourth position in the standings and a spot in the Champions League. Celta Vigo beat Granada 2-0 while Villarreal defeated Real Sociedad 2-0 in San Sebastian. Chilean player Fabian Orellana opened the scoring for the Eduardo ‘Toto’ Berizzo-managed Celta while Iago Aspas sealed their win. Denis Suarez sculpted Villarreal’s win with a goal in each half to take his team within a point of Celta. Atletic Bilbao also remained in the fight for European places at the cost of Levante, with a 2-0 win against the bottom placed team with both goals, by Mikel San Jose and Inaki Williams, coming in the second half. Meanwhile, both Sevilla and Valencia failed to win their respective matches Saturday. Levante are three points away from Granada, who mark the relegation zone with the same number of points as Rayo, placed third last, while Malaga have managed to climb out of the relegation zone.