Atletico, Villarreal Close Gap in LaLiga

Atletico Madrid and Villareal made up some ground in the La Liga table with important wins Sunday.

With Real Madrid earning only a draw against Las Palmas the day before, everyone in the league knew this would be an opportunity to gain two points with victories. Barcelona took care of business Saturday, and Atletico Madrid and Villareal followed suit to remain in the top five.

Valencia and Celta Vigo also had strong performances to close out a busy Matchday 6. Here is a look at the latest results and the updated table.

Sunday Results
Home Score Away
Leganes 1-2 Valencia
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Deportivo La Caruna
Villareal 3-1 Osasuna
Espanyol 0-2 Celta Vigo

WhoScored.com

La Liga Table
R Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Real Madrid 6 4 2 0 15 6 +9 14
2 Barcelona 6 4 1 1 19 6 +13 13
3 Atletico Madrid 6 3 3 0 12 2 +10 12
4 Villarreal 6 3 3 0 9 4 +5 12
5 Athletic Club 6 4 0 2 9 6 +3 12
6 Sevilla 6 3 2 1 11 9 +2 11
7 Las Palmas 6 3 1 2 14 11 +3 10
8 Eibar 6 3 1 2 8 6 +2 10
9 Real Betis 6 2 2 2 8 11 -3 8
10 Leganes 6 2 1 3 6 10 -4 7
11 Sporting Gijon 6 2 1 3 5 14 -9 7
12 Celta Vigo 6 2 1 3 5 8 -3 7
13 Real Sociedad 6 2 1 3 8 9 -1 7
14 Valencia 6 2 0 4 9 12 -3 6
15 Alaves 5 1 3 1 4 4 0 6
16 Malaga 6 1 2 3 5 8 -3 5
17 Espanyol 6 1 2 3 9 14 -5 5
18 Deportivo La Coruna 6 1 2 3 3 5 -2 5
19 Granada 5 0 2 3 6 12 -6 2
20 Osasuna 6 0 2 4 5 13 -8 2

WhoScored.com

Recap

Atletico Madrid did not start the year as anticipated with draws in their first two matches. However, they have bounced back with 13 points out of a possible 15 in the last five contests. Only a draw against Barcelona ruins a flawless stretch.

The latest win was anything but smooth, though, with Deportivo not making anything easy. The two sides battled to a 0-0 score through the first half with the home team missing out on a few close chances.

Even after Deportivo went down to 10 men after a red card, Atletico still couldn’t break through with a score. This was until Antoine Griezmann saved the day with a goal in the 70th minute, captured by beIN Sports:

This continues an impressive run for the French national, who now has five goals in five matches.

Meanwhile, manager Diego Simeone gave plenty of credit to Kevin Gameiro with the assist at a key time.

“Gameiro played well as soon as he went on and was decisive in the move that produced the goal,” Simeone said after the match, perJoseph Wilson of the Associated Press. “We had a tough time settling into the match and it was getting away from us.”

It wasn’t the prettiest game overall, but the contenders did what was needed to come away with three points.

Sid Lowe of the Guardian also argues there’s a lot to like about what the team has shown:

Villareal had an easier time against Osasuna, scoring their three goals in the first half before earning a comfortable 3-1 lead.

Samu Castillejo was the star of the game, finishing with two assists while making strong passes throughout the day. He helped the squad get off to a strong start by finding Alexandre Pato for a goal in the fifth minute.

Nicola Sansone and Bruno also scored goals in the win, helping Villareal stay among the leaders in the table.

As Kieran Canning of Agence France Presse noted, there has already been a lot of parity through the first couple of months:

Valencia also took a big step toward getting back on track with a 2-1 win over Leganes Sunday.

The squad had lost its first four matches of the year but finally earned points Thursday with a win over Alaves. Three days later, it followed it up with a come-from-behind win to move to six points on the season.

Down 1-0, Nani scored the equalizer in the 34th minute. Nani was then credited for the assist on the go-ahead score in the 52nd minute, knocked in by Mario Suarez.

It is still a long road back to the top of the table, but Villareal is at least moving in the right direction.

In the last match of the day, Celta Vigo and Espanyol appeared ready to settle for a scoreless draw through 90 minutes. However, Giuseppe Rossi came through for Celta Vigo with the game-winner in the 91st minute. Just for good measure, Pione Sisto added a second goal to secure the victory.

Both teams are currently looking to avoid relegation after poor starts to the season.

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter.

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