/ Soccer

Atletico stay close to Barca at top of La Liga

Updated: Sunday, 21 Oct 2012 23:06 | Comments

Falcao thanks the heavens after his late winner
Falcao thanks the heavens after his late winner

Atletico Madrid stretched their winning run to seven matches and kept pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga when Radamel Falcao's brilliant late free-kick snatched a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad on Sunday.

With the rain lashing down in San Sebastian, Colombia striker Falcao had an unusually quiet night until he curled the ball over the wall and into the net for a 90th-minute winner, his ninth goal of the campaign.

Atletico, resurgent under Argentine coach Diego Simeone, have not won seven La Liga games in a row since the 1991/92 season. The victory put them level on 22 points with Barca but behind on goal difference.

Barca, like Atletico unbeaten this season, survived the dismissal of centre back Javier Mascherano and held on for a 5-4 success at Deportivo Coruna on Saturday with Lionel Messi netting his 15th La Liga hat-trick.

Malaga are three behind Atletico in third thanks to a 2-1 win at home to Real Valladolid on Saturday, when Real Madrid continued to claw their way up the standings after a poor start to the defence of their title.

Jose Mourinho's side climbed to fourth on 14 points after Gonzalo Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo scored in a drab 2-0 win at home to Celta Vigo on Saturday.

In Sunday's other games, Real Betis missed the chance to climb above Real when they played out an uninspiring 0-0 draw at bottom side Osasuna to stay fifth on 13 points.

Michel's spectacular long-distance effort three minutes from time secured a 1-0 success for Levante at Getafe which lifted the Valencia-based side to sixth.

Espanyol secured their first win of the campaign and climbed off the bottom when Christian Stuani's towering header in the third minute of added time secured a 3-2 win at home to Rayo Vallecano.

Real Zaragoza moved up to 14th when they won 2-1 at Granada, who had midfielder Iriney sent off for a wild challenge in the 72nd minute.

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