Soccer-Atletico return to winning ways with 2-1 victory over Betis


Soccer Football - LaLiga - Atletico Madrid v Real Betis - Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - March 3, 2024 Atletico Madrid's Rodrigo Riquelme in action with Real Betis' German Pezzella REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID (Reuters) -Atletico Madrid secured a hard-fought 2-1 home victory over Real Betis in LaLiga on Sunday thanks to an own-goal by Rui Silva and a header by Alvaro Morata as Diego Simeone's side ended a three-game winless run in all competitions.

The hosts came into the match licking their wounds after a humbling 3-0 defeat in the Copa del Rey semis at Athletic Bilbao in midweek, and in desperate need of a win to strengthen their grip on a top-four spot in LaLiga.

Atletico moved to 55 points in fourth place in the standings. They are two points behind third-placed Barcelona and six ahead of Athletic Bilbao in fifth, who face each other in Bilbao later on Sunday. Real Madrid are top on 66 points.

They started well and pressured Betis early on, with Rodrigo de Paul hitting the post with a close-range strike in the third minute.

Atletico's relentless pressure led to the opening goal when a series of catastrophic mistakes by the Betis defence ended with a miscommunication between three players while trying to clear a Memphis Depay cross.

That caused a pinball effect with the ball ricocheting between them before bouncing off goalkeeper Silva straight into his own net in the eighth minute.

Morata, who had missed a penalty kick earlier in the game, extended the hosts' lead with a header from a rebound off the goalkeeper in the 44th minute.

However, Betis got back into the game when William Carvalho came off the bench to reduce the deficit with a superb strike from range into the top corner in the 61st minute and Atletico's goalkeeper Jan Oblak's heroics enabled them to secure a much needed home win.

Oblak made two reflex saves to deny close-range strikes before making two outstanding one-handed stops to deny late efforts by William Jose and Guido Rodriguez that helped Atletico extend their unbeaten streak at home to 25 LaLiga matches.

"I try to do my best. A goal has gone in and it always makes me sad when it happens, but I try to do my best, to stop as much as possible and I'm going to do that until I'm still here," Oblak told Movistar Plus.

"It was a hard-fought game, we could have resolved it earlier, but we didn't and with a goal they got into the game. In the end we suffered as often happens to us, but I wish we could have solved it earlier, because we controlled the game from the start until their goal and we had to suffer until the end."

(Reporting by Fernando KallasEditing by Toby Davis)

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