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Atletico post narrow win to close in on Barcelona

Madrid, Nov 19, 2012, Reuters: 22:06 IST
Atletico Madrid survived the dismissal of Mario Suarez and held on for a 1-0 win at struggling Granada on Sunday that trimmed the gap to La Liga leaders Barcelona back to three points.

Barca's 3-1 victory at home to Real Zaragoza on Saturday put them six points clear but Atletico stayed close on their heels thanks to Arda Turan’s goal and despite losing midfielder Suarez to a second yellow card midway through the second half.

Diego Simeone’s side has a club record 31 points after 12 matches, one more than when it last won the title with the combative Argentine in the side in 1996.

Champions Real Madrid are third on 26 points, still eight adrift of arch-rivals Barcelona.
Granada midfielder Gabriel Torje hit the post for the home side in the first half at Los Carmenes before Atletico grabbed the only goal of an uninspiring game in the 61st minute. Turkey midfielder Turan turned the ball home for his fourth goal of the campaign after Koke had crossed from the right.

A first real test of Atletico’s title credentials looms on December 1 with a visit to Real and a trip to Barca two weeks later. On Sunday, Simeone paid tribute to his players’ ability to secure three points despite playing poorly for much of the game. “The reaction of the team in the second half is the most important thing about today,” he said.

“When a team understands it’s not performing well, that it has to do something, and it reacts like we did today it’s an important step forward,” he added. Levante climbed above Malaga into fourth on 20 points thanks to a 2-0 win at Deportivo Coruna.

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