Atletico go level with Barcelona as Torres scores 100th goal

Atletico Madrid went level with Spanish leaders Barcelona Saturday with a 3-1 comeback win at home to Eibar, which culminated in veteran Fernando Torres scoring his 100th goal for the club.

"This is a wonderful moment for me and Atletico. This is a reward for all my efforts at the club," the striker, in his second spell at the club, said after throwing his shirt to the delighted fans.

"We just had to win today after our recent setbacks. We showed a lot of character and spirit to come from a goal down."

Atletico coach Diego Simeone had to field a makeshift defence due to suspensions and injuries, and emergency centre-half Saul gifted the opening goal to Eibar's Keko just after half-time by clumsily stepping on the ball.

Jose Gimenez made it 1-1 by heading in a near-post corner in the 56th minute, with Eibar keeper Asier Riesgo inexplicably staying on his goal-line.

Seven minutes later Saul made up for his earlier mistake by making it 2-1 with a powerful header from another corner, with the shaky Riesgo getting a hand to the ball but failing to keep it out.

Atletico have been Spain's leading set-piece specialists since Simeone returned to the club in 2012.

The hugely popular Torres - who had been looking for his 100th Atletico goal for three months - rounded off the win in stoppage time by turning in a centre from fellow substitute Luciano Vietto.

"It's wonderful that Torres is back among the goals," a delighted Simeone said.

"He is an important player in the history of this club, that is why the fans love him so much."

"Instead of building on our lead we let them back into the game," Eibar midfielder Dani Garcia said.

"But all praise to Atletico. They are a very spirited and determined team, and they never give up. You can never relax against them, even if they are not playing particularly well."

The defeat left Eibar in eighth place.

Meanwhile, Atletico are now level on 51 points with leaders Barcelona but have played two games more. Having lost twice to the Catalans, they sit below them in the Spanish head-to-head system.

Rampant Barca will visit bottom team Levante Sunday, looking for their 10th straight win in all competitions; third-placed Real Madrid - who are four points behind the two leaders - go to Granada.

Later Saturday, Rayo Vallecano moved out of the relegation zone and up to 14th with a 2-0 home defeat of Las Palmas, who are now third bottom. 

Miku gave Rayo an early lead, then Bebe sealed the home win 17 minutes from time by making it 2-0.

"The players worked extremely hard today," Rayo coach Paco Jemez said.

"Every year they work their socks off to save us from relegation, and I think this year is going to be no exception."

Also Saturday, fourth-placed Villarreal played out a 0-0 draw at Athletic Bilbao, who are sixth. 

The late game was to bring together northern rivals Sporting Gijon and Deportivo La Coruna.

Last update: Sat, 06/02/2016 - 23:56
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