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Atletico Madrid's European hopes hit by defeat
Published : 18 Mar 2012 17:47:04
Radamel Falcao on Sunday scored a delightful chip but missed a penalty, as Atletico Madrid's European ambitions suffered a blow when they crashed to a 2-1 defeat away to Mallorca.
The defeat was only Atletico's second in the league since the arrival of coach Diego Simeone but their hopes of claiming a Champions League spot next season have been hit by an inability to turn their authority on the pitch into positive results.
Atletico are now three points off sixth place.
After a slow first-half, a Gonzalo Castro shot was turned into his own goal by the unlucky Diego Godin and then just two minutes later Michael Pereira doubled Mallorca's advantage.
The visitors were given a lifeline when an Adrian Lopez cross was handled on the line by Ivan Ramis, leading to the defender's expulsion and a penalty. But a woeful spot-kick from Falcao went straight to keeper Dudu Aouate.
Atletico poured forward and Falcao partly made amends with an excellent lob from the edge of the area which went in off the crossbar.
But much as they tried, they couldn't find the equaliser. Fran Merida went closest with a shot that came back off the woodwork.
They have amassed an incredible 21 wins from 22 games and coach Jose Mourinho says the difference this season is that they don't have to worry about Barcelona.
"At the moment we only need to think about ourselves, unlike last year when we were considering who Barca were playing, whether they won or lost and hoping for the best," he said.
"We face a tough game now against Malaga who haven't come here on holiday. They are a strong side and will look to cause us problems. We are in a good position but still we have not won anything."
Malaga are seeking to win back fourth place after Levante stole ahead of them in the battle for a Champions League position with a 1-0 victory over Villarreal courtesy of an injury time winner from Xavi Torres.
The result led to the sacking of Villarreal coach Jose Francisco Molina who has been in the post for less than four months.