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Llorente's Bilbao double sinks sorry Atletico

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28 Oct 2011 08:17:02

Llorente's Bilbao double sinks sorry Atletico

A brace from Fernando Llorente set in-form Athletic Bilbao up for a 3-0 win over a dejected Atletico Madrid whose goal drought continued on Thursday.

Athletic started the season slowly but have now fully adapted to coach Marcelo Bielsa's attacking system and are going from strength to strength.

Atletico, meanwhile, have not won in seven matches during which time they have scored just twice.

The home side controlled the game but Atletico had moments of danger on the counter-attack with Radamel Falcao, bought for 40 million euros from Porto in the summer, having an early shot which was well-saved.

For Athletic, Iker Muniain was a constant danger with his pace and determined runs, while Llorente was denied before the break by keeper Thibaut Courtois.

Oscar De Marcos saw a header go past the post when he should have scored but Llorente made the breakthrough after 68 minutes although he had more than a stroke of luck as his shot took a deflection off Filipe Luis.

He found the back of the net again minutes later with a powerful header and then substitute Gaizka Toquero added a third also with his head.

A header from substitute Walter Pandiani gave Espanyol a 1-0 victory over struggling Real Betis who have now lost their last five games on the trot.

Espanyol moved up to sixth with their third consecutive triumph while the alarm bells are ringing at Betis who won their first four matches of the campaign but have lost every game since.

It was match of fine saves and poor finishing and appeared to be heading for a stalemate until Pandiani?s introduction made the difference.

In the first half Benat Etxebarria had a shot from distance for Betis which was well saved by keeper Cristian Alvarez, while at the other end Javi Marquez and Joan Verdu also went close.

Alvaro Vazquez though was guilty of fluffing several chances in both halves before he was replaced by Pandiani who headed Espanyol to victory with 16 minutes to go.

"We don?t have time to be distracted and we need to keep working rather than start looking at where we are in the table. This was a big win for us but we need to concentrate on correcting various aspects of our performance," said Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino.

On Wednesday, a first half exhibition of attacking play set Real Madrid up for a 3-0 win over Villarreal but they still trail surprise leaders Levante who came from behind to beat Real Sociedad 3-2.

Real are in blistering form and have now scored 28 goals in their last seven games in all competitions, an average of four a match.

Karim Benzema sent Real on their way with a clinical finish after just three minutes and then Kaka fired in the second minutes later against Villarreal whose coach Juan Carlos Garrido is under pressure with the side having not won now in seven games.

Angel Di Maria finished off a fine team move for the third after 30 minutes and with the game won Real relaxed in the second half while Villarreal offered little threat.

A sensational injury time winner against Sociedad kept Levante in pole position.

The modest side from Valencia are beating all before them in a superb start to the season.

Sociedad went ahead after just three minutes when a poor clearance from the Levante keeper fell to Daniel Estrada who slotted the ball home. They controlled the first half and also hit the post through Alberto De la Bella.

Levante came back strongly though after the break with goals from Nano Rivas and Valdo Lopes but it appeared as though they would have to settle for a draw with Inigo Martinez equalising with three minutes to go.

However, four minutes into injury time Ruben Suarez gave Levante a stunning victory with a free-kick from distance which went in off the post.

European and domestic champions Barcelona find themselves down in third and they appear to have lost some of the zest from their attacking play lately.

A Xavi Hernandez free-kick gave a lacklustre Barca a 1-0 win over nine-man Granada which extended their club record run to seven games without conceding a goal.


AFP

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