La Liga

Falcao gives Atletico Madrid victory

Atletico Madrid's Colombian forward Radamel Falcao
Falcao scored the game-winner for Atletico Madrid against Sevilla on Sunday.
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP)

Radamel Falcao scored his 25th goal of the Spanish league season to give Atletico Madrid a hard-fought 1-0 win at Sevilla and keep his team in the hunt for a second-place finish on Sunday.

After 76 minutes featuring more hard fouls than scoring chances, Falcao finally broke through with a goal after the Colombia striker had battled again and again with Sevilla's defenders.

Falcao stretched his left leg to redirect Raul Garcia's low cross into the net after substitute Adrian Lopez had unbalanced Sevilla's defense with a lobbed pass from the left to the right side of the area for Garcia to volley back across the six-yard box.

Falcao's 25 goals gives him one more than all of last season with six games to play. Only Barcelona's Lionel Messi with 43 and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo with 31 have scored more goals in Spain's topflight this campaign.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois again came up big for Atletico with a pair of crucial saves. Even so, midfielder Ivan Rakitic almost snatched Sevilla a point in stoppage time when his free kick rattled the crossbar.

''Courtois and Falcao are important players for us. Falcao got us our goal as he is accustomed to doing,'' Adrian said. ''We knew it was always hard here at Sevilla, but we defended well and took advantage of our chances. We take away three points worth their weight in gold.''

Atletico dealt Sevilla its first loss at Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in eight consecutive matches and hurt its hopes of making a late-season push to capture a Europa League spot for next season, leaving it in 11th place.

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Atletico's win also reduced the gap with second-place Madrid to three points before the always hotly-contested Spanish capital derby next weekend. Coach Diego Simeone, however, will be missing forward Diego Costa for the Madrid match after he picked up a one-game suspension for accumulation of yellow cards.

''There was a lot of tension on the pitch, but that is football, afterward players from both sides spoke to each other normally,'' Simeone said. ''My team worked extremely hard today. The important thing is always the team. I don't give too much weight to details like yellow cards.''

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