Slumping Girona and limp Barcelona fail to exploit Real’s Liga slip

Presented with a chance to gain ground on Liga leaders Real Madrid, both Girona and then Barcelona tamely surrendered points on Sunday. BSS

After Real Madrid drew in Valencia the night before, surprising title challengers Girona had a chance to reverse their recent slump and regain some ground.

But they continued to subside as they lost 1-0 at Mallorca.

That gave giant Catalan rivals Barcelona a chance to take second, but they drew 0-0 in Bilbao in the late game.

Girona remained second, seven points behind Real with Barcelona another point behind.

Atletico Madrid tightened their grip on fourth as they beat Betis 2-1.

On Saturday, Real Madrid drew 2-2 at Valencia in a game that ended in controversy as Jude Bellingham, who thought he had just scored the winner, was sent off for protesting after his strike was ruled out because the referee had blown the final whistle.

In Palma on Sunday, Mallorca, fresh from reaching the Copa del Rey final, scored the only goal after 33 minutes.

Following a corner, the ball rebounded off Mallorca’s Cyle Larin and fell to Jose-Manuel Copete in space less than 10 metres out. The defender smashed a shot in off the underside of the bar.

Girona enjoyed a slight edge in possession but struggled to create clear-cut chances as they failed to score for the third time in five games.

“I am disappointed with the result but not with the team’s attitude,” said Girona coach Michel Sanchez.

The victory pulled Mallorca up to 15th, eight points clear of the relegation places.

Barcelona ended their visit to Bilbao playing out an uneventful goalless draw at walking pace.

“We didn’t play a good game, we didn’t attack well,” said coach Xavi. “We didn’t play our best. The match required more from us. It’s a missed opportunity. The team could have done more.”

Barcelona also suffered potentially costly injuries to Frenkie de Jong and Pedri, who went off in tears.

Bilbao, who also reached the Spanish Cup final in midweek, stayed fifth, five points behind Atletico Madrid, the only team that stated the weekend in the top half of the table to win.

In the afternoon, Atletico took the lead against Betis after eight minutes with help from the visitors.

Memphis Depay drove a cross toward Alvaro Morata, lurking at the far post, but the ball never reached the Spain striker as three Betis players combined to put the ball into their own net.

Hector Bellerin scuffed the ball onto team-mate German Pezzella who deflected it toward the line where goalkeeper Rui Silva could only parry it into his own goal.

Rui Silva brought down Morata to concede a 27th minute penalty but the goalkeeper saved the spot kick and two follow-up attempts by Morata.

Morata found the target in the 43rd minute, nodding in a rebound from close range after Rui Silva saved a shot by Rodrigo de Paul.

“It was a deserved victory,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone. “We needed it.”

William Carvalho pulled one back for Betis with a long-range blast after 62 minutes.

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak pushed a shot from Guido Rodriguez onto the post as Atletico absorbed late Betis pressure.

In the day’s opening game, Alexander Sorloth scored a hat-trick as Villarreal crushed struggling Granada 5-1.


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