Falcao penalty sees Atletico past Espanyol
Atletico Madrid cut Barcelona's lead at the top of La Liga back to 12 points as Radamel Falcao's penalty was enough to hand them a 1-0 win over Espanyol.
The Colombian converted his seventh spot-kick of the campaign after Hector Moreno had brought down Diego Costa eight minutes before the break.
However, Atleti had to play the entire second-half with 10 men as Gabi was sent-off for a second yellow card in the last action of the first-half.
Even with the man advantage Espanyol struggled to create anything of note as Diego Simeone's men extended their run of not conceding at home in the league to eight games.
Atleti had suffered their first home defeat since April last time out at the Calderon against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, but they started brightly and Espanyol were lucky not be reduced to 10 men themselves when goalkeeper Kiko Castilla only saw a yellow card for bringing down Costa outside the box just 13 minutes in.
Diego Godin headed just over from the resultant free-kick but both sides were struggling to create chances until Falcao released Costa in behind the Espanyol defence and the Brazilian was brought down by Moreno, who was also surprisingly shown just a yellow card despite being the last man.
Falcao stepped up and continued his 100% record from the spot this season as he sent Casilla the wrong was to record his 21st league goal of the campaign.
However, the home fans were then infuriated as, after opting not to send Moreno and Casilla off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunities, referee Clos Gomez did dismiss Atleti captain Gabi for a very soft second bookable offence.
After the break though it was Atleti who continued to have the better of the chances as Costa overran the ball when clean through on Casilla and Falcao also should have wrapped up the points when his weak chip was saved by the keeper a minute from time.
With Thibaut Courtois looking just as solid under a barrage of crossed balls at the other end, though, Espanyol couldn't find a way through as they slipped to their first defeat in seven games.
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