Atletico beat Athletic 1-0 to keep pace with Barcelona

Bilbao (Spain), April 21 (IANS) Atletico Madrid prevailed over Athletic Club 1-0 to remain tied on points with La Liga football leaders FC Barcelona.

Athletic hung onto the fifth place despite the defeat here on Wednesday, reports Efe.

The hosts dominated possession but suffered from the absence of their top scorer Aritz Aduriz. Bilbao’s only real chance of the first half was a header from Raul Garcia.

Just as it seemed the teams would reach half-time scoreless, Atleti’s Fernando Torres connected in the 38th minute, heading a perfect cross from Antoine Griezmann past Athletic keeper Gorka Iraizoz to make it 1-0.

With Athletic still reeling from the strike, the crowd at the San Mames stadium was provoked to fury when Atletico’s Thomas Partey took an ineffectual shot on goal with Iraizoz still down after a collision with one of his defenders.

Though it was unclear whether Partey even saw Iraizoz lying down, the episode left the Athletic fans in a sour mood.

Athletic pressed at the start of the second half, but Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak produced a pair of solid stops.

Not even winning three successive corners in the 75th minute was enough for the home team to seriously trouble Oblak.

The outcome leaves Atletico with 79 points from 34 matches, the same as leaders FC Barcelona, though they trail the Catalan side on goal differential.

Both Barcelona and Atletico are looking over their shoulders at third-placed Real Madrid, who have 78 points.

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