EUROPEAN FOOTBALL ROUNDUP: Atletico pulls level with Barca, Arsenal leads EPL overnight

Santino Honasan on Dec 14, 2015 09:32 AM
Atletico pulls level with Barca, Arsenal leads EPL overnight
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The Associated Press


  
Atletico Madrid is back in the thick of the title hunt in the Spanish league after pulling level with leader Barcelona on Sunday.

The same cannot be said of Rafa Benitez's Real Madrid, which slumped to a 1-0 loss at Villarreal to fall five points adrift of the frontrunners and heap more pressure on its beleaguered manager.

Arsenal, meanwhile, won again to move top of the English Premier League before upstart Leicester plays Chelsea on Monday.

Here is a look at the action from Europe's major leagues from Sunday:

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SPAIN

While Benitez will face even more criticism, the 15th round of matches went perfectly for Diego Simeone.

His Atletico again showed it has rediscovered the same knack for pulling out wins from its 2014 championship campaign as it capitalized on Barcelona's second straight draw from Saturday.

Saul Niguez started Atletico's 2-1 comeback win against Athletic Bilbao when he equalized from a corner kick right before halftime to cancel out Aymeric Laporte's opener.

With Bilbao dictating the flow of play and Simeone calling for the home fans to rally his side, Antoine Griezmann unleashed a long shot that streaked into the corner of the net for the 67th-minute winner.

Madrid was also aiming to take advantage on Barcelona's slip, but Roberto Soldado scored Villarreal's winner eight minutes into a first half it completely dominated. The hosts then held off Madrid's furious response after the break.

Valencia remained winless in its second match since Gary Neville took over as coach after needing an own goal to salvage a 1-1 draw at Eibar, while Malaga beat Rayo Vallecano 2-1.

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ENGLAND

As title-chasing Arsenal completed back-to-back wins with ease, it took Sunday's other Premier League games to provide a double-dose of late drama.

Newcastle was facing ending another weekend in the relegation zone until Ayoze Perez stunned Tottenham in the third minute of stoppage time to win 2-1 at White Hart Lane. Spurs had not lost in the league since the opening day of the season until running into a resilient Newcastle, which ended the 14-match unbeaten run.

Liverpool left it even later at home to West Bromwich Albion, with Divock Origi recovering a 2-2 draw in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Liverpool is five points adrift of Manchester United, which held onto fourth place despite losing at Bournemouth on Saturday, and nine behind provisional leader Arsenal.

Olivier Giroud converted an early penalty for his 50th Premier League goal before Mesut Ozil set up Aaron Ramsey to sweep in another as Arsenal beat bottom-place Aston Villa 2-0.

Although Arsenal's stay at the top could be brief if Leicester beats ailing champion Chelsea, the win at Villa Park capped a good week when the odds were defied to book a place in the round of 16 in the Champions League.

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ITALY

Juan Cuadrado scored against his former club to help Juventus beat Fiorentina 3-1 in Serie A, as the Turin club's title challenge gathered pace.

Late goals secured a victory that came shortly after title rival Napoli was held to a goalless draw by Roma.

Mario Mandzukic fired Juventus in front 10 minutes from time and Paulo Dybala sealed the win as the four-time defending champion recorded a sixth consecutive league victory to leapfrog Roma into fourth.

Elsewhere, AC Milan was jeered off the pitch after a 1-1 draw against bottom club Hellas Verona.

Empoli eased to a 3-0 win over Carpi, and Chievo Verona won 1-0 against Atalanta.

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FRANCE

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain beat Lyon 5-1 to open up a 17-point lead at the top of the French league, glossing over yet another blunder from goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.

Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead in the 11th minute and added another after Sergie Aurier and Edinson Cavani scored. Lucas rounded off the rout.

But all did not go well for PSG's goalie. Trapp was caught straying way off his line when midfielder Jordan Ferri tried a speculative shot from 25 meters and, as he backpedalled, the keeper haplessly pushed the ball into this own net.

Angers and Monaco are 17 points behind PSG but newly-promoted Angers — which equalized late on in a 1-1 home draw with Bordeaux — leads Monaco on goal difference.

Monaco beat Saint-Etienne 1-0, while Marseille drew 1-1 against Gazelec Ajaccio.

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GERMANY

Bundesliga top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored one goal, set up another, missed a penalty and had two goals ruled out in Borussia Dortmund's 4-1 win over 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt.

Dortmund cut Bayern Munich's lead to five points, while only goal difference was keeping Frankfurt out of the relegation zone.

Also, an injury time strike by defender Caiuby earned Augsburg its first ever win over Schalke in a 2-1 victory.

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