Madrid moves closer to the top in Spain as Atletico stalls

Madrid, Feb 21 (AP):
After Atletico Madrid stumbled in the Spanish league, Real Madrid didn’t miss its chance to move closer to the top. Madrid won 1-0 at Valladolid on Saturday for its fourth consecutive win, while Atletico lost points for the second straight match in a 2-0 home loss against Levante that ended its 11-game unbeaten streak in the league.
The results left second-place Madrid within three points of Atletico, which remains with a game in hand but is starting to feel the heat. Third-place Barcelona can move within six points of Atletico if it beats struggling Cadiz at home on Sunday.
Casemiro scored with a 65th-minute header off a cross by Toni Kroos to give Madrid the win two rounds before it visits Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Madrid has been able to inch closer to the top despite playing without several key players recently because of injuries, including Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Eden Hazard.
None of them could play in Valladolid as Madrid withstood a few threats but was mostly in control against the hosts, which are winless in seven matches in all competitions and sit second-to-last in the 20-team standings.
It was a great team effort as we have some very important players sidelined, said Casemiro, who had already come close to opening the scoring with two other headers.
We are still fighting for the league title. We know it’s difficult but there are still a lot of matches to be played.
More than 1,000 dolls were put on the stands at the Valladolid stadium to promote the fight against children’s cancer. Sale proceeds go to a local hospital since December — and first at home in more than a year.
Diego Simeone’s team has won only one of its last four league matches.
I’m not looking for excuses, we need to find solutions, Simeone said.
It’s natural that we will find difficulties along our path. There will be challenges.

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