April 22, 2018 / 10:27 PM / 3 months ago

Atletico held by Betis, Las Palmas down

MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid failed to break down Real Betis in a 0-0 draw on Sunday which further reduced their slim chances of catching Barcelona at the top of La Liga, while Las Palmas were relegated after a crushing 4-0 home defeat by Alaves.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Atletico Madrid v Real Betis - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - April 22, 2018 Real Betis' Dani Gimenez saves a shot from Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres REUTERS/Juan Medina

Diego Simeone’s Atletico moved 11 points behind Barcelona with four games remaining and the unbeaten leaders need one more point to win the title.

With the Europa League semi-final first leg at Arsenal on Thursday in mind, Simeone rotated key players and Betis tried to take advantage.

Javi Garcia missed two excellent chances and Cristian Tello struck the post for the visitors, who extended their club record run of games without conceding a goal to six.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Atletico Madrid v Real Betis - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - April 22, 2018 Atletico Madrid's Saul Niguez in action with Real Betis' Jordi Amat REUTERS/Juan Medina

However, Atletico’s defensive resilience ended Betis’ run of six wins in a row as they recorded their 11th consecutive home clean sheet.

Aissa Mandi headed a Fernando Torres effort off the line and Saul Niguez struck the bar as Atletico also came close, but neither side could earn a victory.

“The team is heading into Thursday’s game really well,” Simeone said. “We made important changes and the players responded, I had to rotate to ensure we had fresh players.”

In the Canary Islands, Munir El Haddadi struck twice with Alvaro Medran and Ruben Sobrino also netting as four second-half goals from Alaves consigned Las Palmas to relegation in a mostly-empty stadium.

Paco Jemez’s side have 21 points from 34 games and are 13 short of Levante in 17th with only four matches left and they will join bottom side Malaga in the second division next season.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Atletico Madrid v Real Betis - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - April 22, 2018 Atletico Madrid and Real Betis players clash REUTERS/Juan Medina

Las Palmas have gone 12 matches without a victory and this was their fifth straight defeat.

“Beyond the fact that this is a sad day because we go down to the second division, it’s also sad because of the result, we went down in the worst way possible,” said Jemez.

“We are as sad as (the fans), we didn’t want this moment to arrive but we will keep working because there are still a lot of things to fight for and we must be responsible with the image of the club.”

Alaves’ triumph confirms their safety, sitting 13th with 41 points from 34 games, an impressive feat masterminded by Abelardo Fernandez who took over in December with the Basque side bottom of the table.

Malaga beat Real Sociedad 2-0 and Espanyol won 2-0 at Girona to damage their Catalan rivals’ dreams of finishing in a Europa League spot. The result left Girona ninth and Espanyol 16th in the standings, 11 points clear of the relegation zone.

Reporting by Rik Sharma,; Editing by Ed Osmond

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