Atletico Madrid missed the chance to strengthen their grip on a Champions League qualification place after they slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
When Atletico saw their LaLiga crown taken by bitter rivals Real Madrid, Diego Simeone’s men started sluggishly. They were duly punished within 10 minutes when Mario Hermoso turned Inaki Williams’ cross into his net.
Williams, a constant threat, sealed all three points in the 56th minute from the penalty spot.
Atletico remains in fourth, yet fifth-placed Real Betis can cut the gap to just a point if they overcome Getafe on Monday. Athletic, meanwhile, remains eighth.
ATHLETIC BILBAO (4-4-2): Unai Simon; Oscar De Marcos, Yeray Alvarez, Inigo Martinez, Yuri; Nico Williams, Dani Garcia, Mikel Vesga, Iker Muniain (c); Inaki Williams, Raul Garcia.
ATLETICO MADRID (4-4-2): Jan Oblak (c); Marcos Llorente, Jose Gimenez, Mario Hermoso, Reinildo; Yannick Carrasco, Hector Herrera, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Renan Lodi; Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann.
ATHLETIC BILBAO 1-0 ATLETICO MADRID! It’s a fantastic start by Athletic! Inaki Williams outmuscles Gimenez to bear down on goal. Hermoso past Oblak deflects his cutback from the left of the box to give the hosts an early lead! That’ll go down as a Hermoso’s own goal.
ATHLETIC BILBAO 2-0 ATLETICO MADRID! Inaki Williams coolly dispatches the penalty, lofting it straight down the middle once Oblak has decided which way he wants to dive. Athletic suddenly look much more comfortable.
Asked at a media conference if he was worried about not securing a top-four spot, Simeone said:
“It occupies me. You have to know how to be in difficult moments and there have been a few in recent years.
“We will see who is up for this difficult moment. The responsibility rests with me.
“I am the first one responsible for whether it happens or not.
“Everyone needs to stay calm, there are four games left.”
So, what’s next?
Athletics can go into their final four games full of hope for next season. However, Atletico has work to ensure they don’t drop into the Europa League places.
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