10-man Atletico edges Sevilla to end mini-slump
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Ten-man Atletico Madrid edged Sevilla 1-0 at home on Saturday to ensure it entered the Spanish league winter break still in touch with the front-runners.
The game in Spain’s capital was originally scheduled for September but was postponed due to a forecast for bad weather.
Halftime substitute Marcos Llorente made an immediate impact by scoring just a minute after the restart. Atletico then defended with poise while playing a man down for the final 20 minutes after substitute Caglar Soyuncu received a direct red card in the 70th.
“When you come off the bench you always try to give your team something extra,” Llorente said. “We only had winning on our minds. Now it is time to disconnect and then we are right back at it.”
Real Madrid and surprise package Girona are at the top of the standings with a seven-point lead over Atletico and Barcelona one round before the competition reaches its halfway point.
Atletico had been in a bit of a slump after winning just one of its previous four league games.
Llorente used exquisite control of a long ball from Koke Resurrección before he finished off a rebound of his own pass to beat goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic.
Soyuncu was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Lucas Ocampos after the Turkey international had been on the field for four minutes.
Atletico defender Reinildo Mandava went on as a late substitute in his first appearance since needing surgery to repair a torn right-knee ligament in February.
Sevilla was playing its second game under new coach Quique Sánchez Flores. It beat Getafe in his debut on Tuesday. Sevilla is three points above the relegation zone in 15th place.
Atletico's next game is at Girona on Jan. 3, a day before Sevilla hosts Athletic Bilbao.
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