MADRID ( Associated Press) – Atletico Madrid defeated Elche 2-0 in the Spanish league on Wednesday to reach the Champions League for a 10th consecutive season.
The win moved Diego Simeone’s team to third place, one point ahead of Sevilla, who had previously missed their chance to guarantee a berth in Europe’s top club competition, against relegation-threatened Mallorca. was followed by a scoreless home draw.
Matthias Cunha and Rodrigo de Paul scored a goal in each half to leave Atletico six points behind fifth-placed Real Betis with two rounds to go. Betis, who won 3-0 in Valencia on Tuesday, cannot advance past Atletico for the final qualification spot as they lose on a face-to-face tiebreaker.
“This team also wants to play in the top competitions,” said de Paul. “We’ve had an up and down season but it’s important to finish like this.”
The win gave Atlético a chance to overtake Barcelona in second place and a place in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. Barcelona, who beat Celta Vigo 3-1 at home on Tuesday, are five points ahead of Atletico going into the last two games of the season.
Real Madrid have already won their record 35th league title. It hosts the last venue Levante on Thursday.
Atletico have made it to the Champions League every time since 2013–14. It reached the final in 2014 and 2016, both times losing the title-deciding game to city rivals Madrid. It failed to progress beyond the group stage only in 2017-18. Simone’s team was knocked out by Manchester City in this year’s quarter-finals.
Cunha opened the scoring in the 28th minute and de Paul sealed the victory in the 62nd with a shot into the open net, following an assist from Antoine Griezmann, who extended his scoreless streak to 17 matches in all competitions. Well played though.
Substitute Atletico striker Luis Suarez’s goal in stoppage time was denied offside.
14th-ranked Elche has escaped relegation despite a second straight loss.
Sevilla again missed the chance to secure their Champions League spot at home from earlier.
Julan Lopetegui’s team has drawn three straight matches, including the last two matches at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizzuan Stadium. The other home draw was also against a relegation-threatening team, Cádiz.
Sevilla have won only two of their last 10 matches in all competitions, with three losses and five draws.
Mallorca remained with the prospect of avoiding relegation as it is two points behind Cadiz, the first team outside the relegation zone. Cadiz visits sixth-place Real Sociedad on Thursday.
faith of bonfire
Elvis dropped last and moved to within four points of exiting the relegation zone with a 2–1 win over Espanyol.
Miguel de la Fuente and Gonzalo Escalante scored one goal each for the hosts, while Espanyol made it to the board in the first half with Raul de Tomas.
It was the third win for Alavés in the last five league matches, all at home.
Espanyol finished 13th and are secure in the top flight next season.
getafe almost safe
Getafe drew 1–1 over mid-table Osasuna to advance to within a point of securing their permanent place in the First Division.
Despite not making a single attempt on the target, he got a draw. It was scored by Osasuna midfielder Lucas Toro’s own goal.
The result put Getafe in 15th place, five points away from safety. This is a better one-on-one tiebreaker against Mallorca, the first team inside the relegation zone.
More Associated Press Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni