Sevilla's winless streak reaches eight matches after draw with Villarreal
MADRID (AP) — João Félix has given Atletico Madrid fans even more reason not to like him.
Playing on loan from Atletico after falling out with the club last season — and highly unlikely to return — Felix scored with a neat shot over goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 28th minute to give Barcelona a 1-0 home victory on Sunday and move the Catalan team closer to the top of the Spanish league standings.
“It was a relief after everything that I went through last summer,” said Félix, who was still with Atletico when he upset fans by saying his dream was to play for Barcelona. “Only those close to me know what it was like, especially my family. This was for them.”
The victory put Barcelona back within four points of leaders Girona and Real Madrid, which won their matches on Saturday. Madrid beat Granada 2-0 and Girona defeated Valencia 2-1.
Atletico, winless in its last 18 away matches against Barcelona in the league, dropped to fourth place, three points behind Barcelona in third but with a game in hand.
It was the fourth win in four matches between Barcelona's coach Xavi Hernández and Atletico's Diego Simeone.
“It's another loss in Barcelona, but good things will come, we have to be patient," said Simeone, who avoided talking about Félix's performance.
Félix arrived at Atletico for 120 million euros (now $130 million) in 2019 but never fully met the high expectations that came along with his signing. He got off to a good start with Barcelona, scoring three goals in in his first three matches.
Félix received a standing ovation when he was substituted by Ferran Torres in the 77th at the Olympic Lluis Companys Stadium.
The Portugal forward got the winner by flicking the ball over Oblak from a tight angle after a pass by Raphinha.
Barcelona goalkeeper Iñaki Peña, replacing the injured Marc-André ter Stegen, made a few good saves toward the end to secure Barcelona's third win in four league matches.
Barcelona was coming off a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano before beating Porto 2-1 to secure its return to the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time after two consecutive group-stage eliminations.
Félix, a former Benfica player, also scored against Porto on Tuesday.
Simeone's Atletico had won four in a row in all competitions, with two losses — including at Las Palmas — and eight wins in its last 10 league matches.
SEVILLA HELD AGAIN
Sevilla's winless streak in the Spanish league reached eight matches after a 1-1 home draw with Villarreal.
The latest setback came four days after Sevilla was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League following a 3-2 loss to PSV Eindhoven in a match it was winning 2-0 in the second half.
The hosts escaped another defeat on Sunday after Villarreal's potential winner was disallowed deep into stoppage time. Ben Brereton scored in the seventh minute of added time but the goal was called back after video review because of a foul by Brereton on Kike Salas.
Salas had put Sevilla ahead in the 75th minute, with José Luis Morales equalizing in the 77th for 12th-place Villarreal.
Sevilla, which hasn't won in the league since a 5-1 rout of last-place Almeria in September, sits in 15th place.
ALMERIA STILL WINLESS
Almeria remained the only team without a league win this season after a 0-0 home draw against Real Betis, which played with 10 men after Héctor Bellerín was sent off with a straight red card in the 27th.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis, sitting in seventh place, is unbeaten in 10 straight league matches, with four wins and six draws.
Javier Aguirre's Mallorca, in 16th place, drew 0-0 with 13th-place Alaves to remain winless at home this season, with six draws and one loss.
Alaves is winless in eight road games, with three draws and five losses.
ANOTHER GUDELJ SCARE
Cordoba defender Dragisa Gudelj was in good condition after collapsing in the first half of a third-division game against Melilla on Sunday, eight months after suffering a cardiac arrest during another match.
Cordoba said the 26-year-old Gudelj was doing well and undergoing tests in a hospital in Melilla.
In March, a game between Cordoba and Racing Ferrol was abandoned early in the first half after Gudelj collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.
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