- Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016

MADRID (AP) - Atletico Madrid kept alive its Spanish league title hopes while virtually ending Real Madrid’s in winning their city derby 1-0 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday.

Antoine Griezmann scored in the 53rd minute after a cross by left back Filipe Luis.

Atletico pulled within five points of leader Barcelona, which hosts Sevilla on Sunday to close out the 26th round. Real Madrid could drop 12 points behind Barcelona if the Catalan club wins.

It was Real Madrid’s first defeat at home since a humiliating 4-0 loss to Barcelona in November. The team had won seven straight at Bernabeu.

Fans loudly jeered Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, calling for his resignation. After the final whistle, many fans waved white “goodbye” handkerchiefs to show their displeasure with the president. Some protested outside the stadium, prompting police to intervene to disperse the crowd.

“The league is over for us,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “To lose to Atletico at home is very difficult to overcome.”

It’s the third season in a row that Atletico beat Real Madrid at Bernabeu in the Spanish league.

“This win gives Atletico Madrid fans reason to feel very proud of their players,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “Atletico keeps improving. We are going through a good moment.”

Simeone said it remains difficult to catch up to Barcelona which, against Sevilla, has a chance to tie Real Madrid’s record of 34 unbeaten games in all competitions set in 1988-89.

“The truth is it will be difficult for Barcelona to lose three games,” Simeone said. “Of course, you always want more, but we have to keep focused on our goal, which is to finish in the top three.”

Griezmann got the winner in a breakaway that started near midfield. He carried the ball to the top of the area, fed Luis on the left flank, and the latter passed it right back for Griezmann’s shot from near the penalty spot.

Atletico had not scored in its last two games. It hasn’t conceded in four straight matches.

Real Madrid controlled the early parts of the game but Atletico improved and didn’t allow the hosts to create many chances.

Cristiano Ronaldo had seven goals in his last three games at the Bernabeu, but his only shot of note was a header straight to Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 68th.

“It was already complicated to win the league before this loss, now it’s even harder,” Ronaldo said. “We have to keep our focus on the Champions League.”

He attacked Spanish media for “always criticizing” him, and blamed the team’s recent struggles on the absence of some injured players such as Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Pepe, and Karim Benzema, who played only the first half.

“If you don’t play with your best players, it’s difficult to win a long competition like the Spanish league,” Ronaldo said. “If everyone was at my level, perhaps we would be in first place.”

The first Madrid derby this season ended 1-1 at Atletico’s Vicente Calderon Stadium.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni


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