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Saturday, 16 January 2021

Real Madrid's struggles continue with 2-1 loss to Alaves

AP , Sunday 29 Nov 2020
Alaves v Real Madrid
Alaves' Joselu, left, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Alaves at Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020 (AP)
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Real Madrid's struggles in the Spanish league continued in a 2-1 home loss to Alaves on Saturday.

Lucas Perez scored in the first half and Joselu in the second after a blunder by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as mid-table Alaves handed Madrid its third straight setback in the league, leaving it in fourth place, six points off the lead.

Casemiro scored Madrid's lone goal in the 86th.

Atletico Madrid earlier defeated Valencia 1-0 to tie Real Sociedad on points at the top of the standings.

Madrid also lost Eden Hazard because of an apparent injury in the first half, the latest injury woe for the Belgium forward who was making only his fifth start this season.

The Spanish club defeated Inter Milan in the Champions League midweek but was coming off two consecutive setbacks in the league _ a 4-1 loss at Valencia and a 1-1 draw at Villarreal.

Alaves had drawn three straight games, including 1-1 with Barcelona at home while playing with 10 men.

Perez opened the scoring five minutes into the match from the penalty spot after a handball inside the area by Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez. Courtois gave away the second goal in the 49th after his pass from the back to Casemiro came out too weak and was intercepted by Joselu, who sent a low shot into the open net from outside the area.

Casemiro pulled Madrid closer late from close range but Alaves held on.

Madrid's best chance to equalize came when Francisco ``Isco'' Alarcon's hit the crossbar in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Alaves kept threatening on counterattacks at the empty Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium.

A Diego Maradona jersey was put alongside the Real Madrid reserve players, and a moment of silence was observed before the match as a tribute to the Argentina great who died this week.

Atletico's streak

Atletico Madrid defeated Valencia with a late own-goal to extend its winning streak to six matches in the Spanish league.

The own-goal by Valencia defender Toni Lato in the 79th minute left Atletico tied on points with Sociedad with a game in hand. Sociedad hosts third-placed Villarreal on Sunday.

The goal came after the ball hit Lato's leg following a low cross by Atletico midfielder Yannick Carrasco from the left flank. The ball ricocheted backward and struck the post before going in.

``Luck also plays a role sometimes,'' said Carrasco, who came into the match in the second half. ``It's always hard to play here, so we are happy to have won the match.''

Atletico is yet to trail in the league and remains the only unbeaten team. It hasn't lost in the league in 25 matches, going back to last season.

Diego Simeone's team has a decisive match against Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Simeone was moved by a pre-match tribute to former Argentina teammate Diego Maradona at Mestalla Stadium.

"I believed it was important to say one final goodbye by applauding him,'' Simeone said.

Valencia dropped to 11th place after failing to beat Atletico for a 12th straight time in the league since 2014.

Other results

Sevilla beat Huesca 1-0 for its fifth victory in a row in all competitions, with Youssef En-Nesyri scoring late. Huesca remains the only winless team in the Spanish league.

Elche and Cadiz drew 1-1 in a match between promoted clubs. Elche opened the scoring through Lucas Boye in the first half and the visitors equalized through Alvaro Gimenez Candela in the second half. Elche played a man down after Boye was sent off for a second yellow card in first-half stoppage time.

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