Soccer-Lacklustre Atletico fall 2-0 away to Alaves

Soccer Football - LaLiga - Deportivo Alaves v Atletico Madrid - Estadio Mendizorroza, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain - April 21, 2024 Deportivo Alaves' Luis Rioja celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates REUTERS/Vincent West

VITORIA-GASTEIZ, Spain (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid suffered a 2-0 LaLiga defeat away to Alaves on Sunday courtesy of a first-half goal from Carlos Benavidez and Luis Rioja's superb late effort as the visitors missed the chance to cement their advantage in fourth place.

Diego Simeone's side were far from their best after being knocked out of the Champions League in midweek by Borussia Dortmund and remain on 61 points, seven behind Girona and only three clear of fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao in the battle for European spots.

The hosts grabbed the lead in the 15th minute when captain Benavidez pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box to curl a fine low shot past keeper Jan Oblak.

Rioja's stunning volley in stoppage time sealed the win that moved the Basque side further away from relegation, climbing to 13th place with 35 points, 10 points clear of third-bottom Cadiz.

(Reporting by Janina Nuno Rios in Mexico City; Editing by Toby Davis)

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