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Girona returns to Spanish league lead with win over Celta Vigo

Girona celebrates Girona - Getty Images

MADRID (AP) — There's no easing off for Girona in the Spanish league.

The Catalan club rebounded from a setback in the Copa del Rey by beating Celta Vigo 1-0 in the league on Sunday to extend its impressive run and return to the top of the standings.

Portu scored a first-half winner to move Girona a point ahead of Real Madrid, which won 2-1 at Las Palmas on Saturday. Madrid has played one game less than Girona.

“This is a long-distance race,” Girona coach Míchel Sánchez said. “We are in a very nice position and we want to continue this run.”

Girona was coming off a 3-2 loss at Mallorca in the Copa del Rey, a result that kept it from reaching the tournament's semifinals for the first time and ended its 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions. The team's only other loss this season came against Madrid at home in the league in September.

Girona has 17 wins in 22 league matches, and the competition's best attack with 52 goals. No other team has scored more than 45.

Míchel's team has won six of its last eight league games, but it has a tough stretch ahead with matches against sixth-place Real Sociedad, second-place Madrid and fifth-place Athletic Bilbao.

It was the third straight loss for Rafa Benítez's Celta, which was coming off two consecutive home defeats against Real Sociedad — one in the league and one in the Copa. The Vigo team stayed in 17th place in the league.

There were some jeers during and after the match toward Benítez, who is in the first year of a three-year contract with Celta.

“We played against a good team that is at the top for good reason,” Benítez said. “We had our chances but couldn't capitalize on them.”

Celta had risked dropping into the relegation zone later Sunday but Cadiz drew 0-0 with Athletic, and Sevilla was held to a 1-1 draw against Osasuna.

Benítez complained about the poor field conditions at Balaídos Stadium, as did Míchel and some Girona players.

Girona conceded some chances but was in control during most of the match.

Portu found the net from inside the area with a low shot by the near post in the 20th minute.

“We have to keep going match by match,” Portu said. “We know that we have been opening a good gap to the other teams fighting for the European places, and that has to be our goal right now.”


Atletico Madrid moved past Barcelona into third place by beating Valencia 2-0 with a goal in each half by Samuel Lino and Memphis Depay.

The victory extended Atletico's unbeaten run at home to 27 matches, since a 1-0 loss to Barcelona in January last year. It has only two draws during that streak, which ties its unbeaten run at home achieved from 2019-2021.

Atletico and Barcelona are tied on 44 points, 11 fewer than Girona.

“We are not worried about the standings, we need to keep trying to win our matches and then we'll see what happens,” said Lino, a former Valencia player.

Valencia had won four in a row in the league. It sits in eighth place.


Sevilla's struggles continued with its home draw against Osasuna, which left the team one point outside the relegation zone and prompted more jeers from its fans.

Sevilla has only one win in its last 16 league games and was coming off elimination against Atletico in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.


Cadiz was unable to end its 20-game winless streak in all competitions on the debut of new coach Mauricio Pellegrino.

The scoreless home draw against fifth-place Athletic kept Cadiz just inside the relegation zone.


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