BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Atletico Madrid bounced back from its worst defeat under coach Diego Simeone by beating Real Sociedad 2-0 to take the lead of the Spanish league on Saturday.
Atletico was one point ahead of Barcelona and Espanyol. Barcelona can reclaim the lead on Sunday when it hosts Real Madrid in the season’s first clasico.
Atletico produced the convincing home victory over Sociedad three days after it lost at Borussia Dortmund 4-0 in the Champions League, its biggest loss in 390 matches since Simeone took charge in 2011.
Atletico hemmed Sociedad in its own area for most of the first half until Diego Godin broke through just before halftime when he swept in a clearance of a pass by Angel Correa.
Fellow defender Filipe Luis added a second goal as a substitute in the 61st when he cut inside from the left flank and fired into the far corner of the net.
Simeone made four changes to his starting 11 from the collapse at Dortmund, starting Correa, Rodrigo Hernandez, Stefan Savic and Santiago Arias instead of Filipe Luis, Thomas Lemar, Thomas Partey and Juanfran Torres.
“I was convinced that my players would respond in the best way possible and once again they showed the inner strength of this team,” Simeone said.
ASPAS HAT TRICK
Iago Aspas scored three superb goals as Celta Vigo beat Eibar 4-0, ending a six-match winless run.
Aspas and Girona’s Cristhian Stuani lead the league with eight goals each in 10 rounds.
Aspas struck his first goal from the left side. The Spain striker added a stunning second goal when he used one touch to loft a ball from 30 meters over goalkeeper Asier Riesgo.
After Brais Mendez made it 3-0, Aspas stole a poor pass from Anaitz Arbilla to Riesgo to achieve the treble.
Aspas netted the hat trick a day after he became a father for a second time.
“This was a special game for me after the birth of my daughter yesterday,” Aspas said. “I slept in the hospital last night (.) and am going back to the hospital now.”
IN A RUT
Valencia was held to a scoreless draw at Athletic Bilbao, extending both teams’ winless runs.
Bilbao coach Eduardo Berizzo and Valencia counterpart Marcelino Garcia will be under more pressure after another bad result for clubs that aspire to finish in European positions. Valencia is in 14th place and Bilbao in 16th in the 20-team competition.
Valencia, which finished fourth in La Liga last season, has drawn five in a row in all competitions and has only one win in 13 total matches this season.
Bilbao has gone nine matches since its only win, which came in the league opener.
Part of the problem for both sides is the scoring drought of its strikers.
Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz has yet to score this season after missing four matches due to muscle injuries. Now 37 years old, he has scored at least 20 a season for Bilbao in the last four campaigns.
Valencia, meanwhile, has received just one goal from Rodrigo Moreno, who netted 19 in 2017-18.
Cristian “Portu” Portugues scored twice to lead Girona over last-place Rayo Vallecano 2-1.
Levante beat Leganes 2-0 to move into seventh place ahead of Madrid, which fell to eighth before it visits Camp Nou.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports