April 1, 2018 / 9:04 PM / 3 months ago

CORRECTED-Soccer-Lacklustre Atletico beat Deportivo with Gameiro penalty

(Corrects paragraph five to make clear Lucas Perez is on loan from Arsenal)

MADRID, April 1 (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid beat La Liga strugglers Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 at home on Sunday without starting first choice strikers Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann, cutting the deficit behind leaders Barcelona down to nine points.

French forward Kevin Gameiro scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 34th minute in a generally underwhelming display against relegation-threatened Deportivo. The spot kick was awarded after Pedro Mosquera tugged the shirt of midfielder Saul Niguez in the area.

Gameiro started on his own in attack as top scorer Griezmann was suspended and Costa was recovering from muscle discomfort, although the Spain international came on in the second half, replacing 19-year-old debutant Carlos Isaac.

Deportivo have still not managed to win in 2018 but created the better of the chances against Diego Simeone’s side.

They could have taken the lead early on when on-loan Arsenal forward Lucas Perez burst into the box with only Jan Oblak to beat but shot straight at the goalkeeper. Later in the half he was again thwarted by the Slovenian with a headed attempt.

Mosquera wasted a great chance shortly before halftime when the ball fell to his feet at the back post but he sent it flying over the bar. In the second half, Atletico defender Lucas Hernandez made a perfectly timed challenge to swipe the ball from the feet of Perez as he was racing towards goal.

Atletico are second in the Liga standings on 67 points after 30 games. Leaders Barca have 76 while champions Real Madrid are third on 63. Deportivo are 19th on 20, eight adrift of safety. (Reporting by Richard Martin Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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