Atletico held by Alaves to scoreless draw in Spanish league

MADRID (AP) " Atletico Madrid's title chances took another hit after a scoreless draw at promoted Alaves in the Spanish league on Saturday.

It was the second consecutive league draw for Atletico, keeping Diego Simeone's team in fourth place, seven points off the lead. It is also in danger of dropping further behind in the fight for an automatic spot for the Champions League, as it was five points behind third-place Barcelona. The leaders play on Sunday.

"We won a point, which is more than we could have hoped for in this game," Simeone said. "It was not a good game in general. We need to improve."

Atletico, which won three in a row before enduring the two consecutive setbacks, was outplayed by Alaves during most of the match at Mendizorroza Stadium.

The host's best scoring chance was a close-range shot by defender Victor Laguardia that struck the crossbar in the 30th minute. Off the rebound, striker Deyverson's header missed the open net.

Atletico missed its best scoring opportunity in the second half, when Nicolas Gaitan broke free toward the goal but wasn't able to get a shot off as Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco charged from the net to snatch the ball away from the midfielder's feet in the 78th.

"We leave with the feeling that we deserved more," Alaves coach Mauricio Pellegrino said. "We played a great match against a great rival."

Atletico defender Jose Gimenez left the match early in the second half because of an apparent muscle injury.

Alaves, winless in four matches, stayed 12th in the 20-team standings. It is playing in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey, facing Celta Vigo in the first leg on Thursday in Vigo.

VILLARREAL 2, GRANADA 0

Villarreal snapped its three-game winless streak with a comfortable victory over last-place Granada.

Bruno Soriano scored in the first half, and Alvaro Gonzalez in the second, to remain sixth and in position to fight for a spot in the European competitions next season.

Forward Alexandre Pato was not in Villarreal's lineup because he is negotiating to move to Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian.

LEGANES 0, CELTA VIGO 2

Celta Vigo earned an easy win at struggling Leganes despite resting some regular starters for its matchup against Alaves in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey midweek.

Midfielder Alvaro Lemos scored in the first half and forward John Guidetti netted in the second to help move Celta to seventh in the standings.

Promoted Leganes, its winless streak extended to eight matches, was only five points away from the relegation zone.

EIBAR 3, DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA 1

Eibar ended a three-game winless run at home by beating Deportivo. Eibar had drawn against Alaves and lost to Atletico Madrid and to Barcelona in its last three games at Ipurua.

Deportivo was winless in four matches, and six points above the relegation zone.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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