Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone faced increased pressure after the La Liga champions lost 2-1 to Granada on Wednesday.
With Atletico losing four consecutive league games for the first time since Simeone took over in 2011, the Argentine’s role has been scrutinized by club fans and the Spanish media.
It took less than two minutes for Joao Felix to give Atletico the lead with a perfect low shot from the edge of the area, with the goal proving why the fans had urged Simeone to play the Portuguese forward more often from the start.
But Granada equalized 15 minutes later with a stunning long-range shot from Darwin Machis.
Felix tried desperately to score the second goal but was frustrated by an equally determined Granada, who found the winner midway through the second half thanks to Jorge Molina.
Granada have survived the last 20 hectic minutes during which Atletico tried desperately to score the equalizer without success. It was Granada’s first win against Atletico since 1973, ending a streak of 25 straight wins.
Simeone’s judgment has been called into question as Atletico’s usually solid defense has now leaked into 22 goals in 18 games this season, with the champions having only kept five goalless goals in La Liga during that period. By contrast, they conceded only eight goals in the same stage last season.
Atletico are fifth in the standings with 29 points after 18 games, 17 points behind Real Madrid.
Karim Benzema scored two goals in the first seven minutes to send the leaders real Madrid eight points clear of the Liga lead with a 2-1 win Atletico Bilbao.
Real, who were missing eight players due to the Covid-19 outbreak at the club, have extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games in all competitions.
Benzema broke the 400-goal milestone in his professional career with a stunning shot from just outside the box in the fourth minute before adding another just three minutes later when an Athletic defender missed a throw-in.
Oihan Sancet stopped Real’s momentum with a sensational goal in the 10th minute. The hosts held out, but Madrid held out to secure all three points.
Serie A – Napoli stunned by Spezia
Third place Naples lost seven points behind Serie A leaders Inter after losing 1-0 at home to relegation threat Spice, which benefited from an own goal by Napoli defender Juan Jesus.
Napoli was missing captain Lorenzo Insigne, who had a positive result at Covid-19, while Spezia did not make a single shot on goal.
Inter Milan ended the year with a 1-0 win Turin to stay at the top of the rankings in view of the winter break
Denzel Dumfries scored from the edge of the box, finishing a counterattack after receiving a heel pass from Edin Dzeko during the first half at San Siro. It was the third goal in four games for the Dutch right-back.
AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie played a starring role by scoring a brace in the 4-2 win Empoli, leaving the Rossoneri second in Serie A mid-season.
The Ivorian international was deployed in a more advanced attacking midfield position and excelled in the role by hitting twice before half-time, on both sides of Nedim Bajrami’s goal for Empoli.
A free-kick from Alessandro Florenzi and a goal from Theo Hernandez extended the visitors’ advantage, before Andrea Pinamonti pulled back for the hosts from the penalty spot.
Manolo Gabbiadini scored with 10 minutes left to secure a 1-1 draw for Sampdoria in Rom.
Eldor Shomurodov had put Roma ahead eight minutes earlier. Gabbiadini then scores from close range on a corner kick.
Roma are on equal points with seventh place Fiorentina, who drew 1-1 to Hellas Verona. Gaetano Castrovilli equalized for the Viola with a diving header from Kevin Lasagna’s net.
Lazio won 3-1 to Venice despite the absence of the attacker Ciro Immobile, who has the coronavirus. Pedro, Francesco Acerbi and Luis Alberto scored for the Roman club.
Also, Bologna won 3-0 to Sassuolo with goals from Riccardo Orsolini, Aaron Hickey and Federico Santander. It was the fourth goal this season for Scottish midfielder Hickey.
Ligue 1 – Ramos sent off for PSG draw
Mauro Icardi’s goal in recovery helped 10 men Paris Saint Germain save a lucky 1-1 draw at low stakes Lorient in a bad performance.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team, who sent Sergio Ramos off, have 46 points in 19 games with Cute in second place with 13 points after the 2-1 comeback victory at home against RC lens.
Third place Marseille, who have one game less, follow Nice by goal difference after catching a cold at the Velodrome in 1-1 against Reims, Dimitri Payet recovers a point with an eight-minute penalty in added time.
Rennes are fourth with 31 points after a 2-1 defeat Monk.
Somewhere else, Montpellier consolidated fifth place with a convincing 4-1 home win against the center of the table makes you angry and samples A little rose to eighth place when Jonathan David’s late goal gave them a 3-2 victory Edge.
The game between Clermont and ran Strasbourg was postponed due to fog.