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Barca lose again as Zidane gets breathing space

Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi’s Barcelona suffered a fourth defeat of the campaign with a 2-1 loss at Cadiz, while Real Madrid eased the pressure on Zinedine Zidane with their first league win since October following a 1-0 victory at Sevilla.

Barca remain a distant seventh, 12 points off leaders Atletico Madrid after struggling against promoted Cadiz.

Barca coach Ronald Koeman made three changes from the midweek win at Ferencvaros with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, at fault for both goals at the Estadio Ramon de Carranza, coming in for Neto.

Ter Stegen’s first costly error in Andalusia came after eight minutes as Alvaro Gimenez claimed his second goal in as many games.

The Barca defence failed to clear a corner which fell to Ter Stegen, whose weak parry onto his own line was tapped in by Gimenez.

Koeman’s men were all-square after 56 minutes as Jordi Alba’s low cross was deflected into his own goal by defender Pedro Alcala.

But Ter Stegen’s worst howler of proceedings came eight minutes later.

Clement Lenglet made a hash of Alba’s throw in before Ter Stegen failed to clear under pressure from Negredo, the former Manchester City striker claiming his third goal league goal of the campaign.

– ‘Difficult time’ –

At the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, under-pressure Zidane said Madrid’s victory was significant after a testing run of games.

Sevilla goalkeeper Bono guided Vinicius Junior’s effort into his own net in the second half, allowing Zidane’s side to take the three points and move up to third in the table.

Following two defeats in the past three games, including a 2-0 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek that leaves Real’s Champions League qualification hopes in the balance, Spanish press reports have linked former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and ex-Madrid forward Raul to Zidane’s job.

Zidane said his side could be satisfied with their narrow win after a “difficult” time. 

“These are three very important points for us. It’s a well-deserved win, against a very good opponent, who can put you in trouble at any time. We got through this,” he said.

“It has been a bit difficult lately, today we have to enjoy it, be happy, but nothing more.”

Atletico, now unbeaten in 26 games in La Liga, moved to the top of the table with a 2-0 win over Real Valladolid.

France international Thomas Lemar and Spain midfielder Marcos Llorente scored for Diego Simeone’s men, who are among five clubs to remain without a domestic defeat in Europe’s main five leagues.

Real Sociedad, who have lost just once in the league this term but now trail Atletico by two points, travel to Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

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