Simeone tells hobbling Atletico to ‘resist’ in La Liga title push

Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid moved back to the top of La Liga on Sunday after a 1-1 draw against Real Betis opened a one-point lead over city rivals Real.

Despite missing 19-goal striker Luis Suarez, Atletico were in front after just five minutes when Belgian international Yannick Carrasco scored into an empty net after a goal-mouth scramble.

However, Betis, who are in sixth place in the table and chasing European football next season, levelled just 15 minutes later.

Cristian Tello was on hand to score from just inside the box from a cross by Alex Moreno.

On Saturday, Real Madrid had taken top spot with a 2-1 Clasico win over Barcelona.

That was the first time Atletico had been knocked off the top since December when they went on to mount a run that saw them go 10 points clear with a game in hand at the start of February. 

Barcelona are third, a point further back on 65 points.

Both goalkeepers played crucial roles in ensuring Atletico and Betis shared the points on Sunday.

Veteran keeper Claudio Bravo superbly kept out Saul Niguez’s 14th-minute header and then saved from Angel Correa in the last minute of the game.

At the other end, Jan Oblak was just as reliable, denying Emerson and Diego Lainez.

Despite returning to the top of the table, Atletico coach Diego Simeone saw his team’s injury worries pile up.

Joao Felix suffered an ankle injury after a tackle from Betis defender Aissa Mandi.

England international Kieran Trippier picked up a back injury late in the game and was replaced by Sime Vrsaljko.

“In the second half we suffered. But I have footballers who give everything,” said Simeone who was already without Luis Suarez, Marcos Llorente, Moussa Dembele and Geoffrey Kondogbia.

“We are in a moment of resistance. Resist, that’s a word that appeals to me. Resist, like all of society in these difficult times.”

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