Madrid keeps on dancing, beats Atlético to stay perfect

·4 min read

MADRID (AP) — Rodrygo and Vinícius Júnior didn’t hesitate after Real Madrid opened the scoring at the Metropolitano stadium.

The Brazilian duo went toward one of the corner flags and began doing their samba-like dance moves near the Atlético Madrid fans.

With its young Brazilians not backing away from their dancing, Madrid beat city rival Atlético 2-1 in the Spanish league to extend its perfect start to the season on Sunday.

Rodrygo and Federico Valverde scored first-half goals as the defending champions won their ninth match in a row in all competitions.

The result restored Madrid as the league leader after it had been overtaken by Barcelona on Saturday following the Catalan club’s 3-0 win against Elche for its fifth straight victory. Madrid leads Barcelona by two points.

Atlético’s second league loss came despite using Antoine Griezmann from the start for the first time this season. Coach Diego Simeone had been adding the France forward only after the 60-minute mark amid a contractual dispute in which Atlético would reportedly have to pay extra to Barcelona if Griezmann played a certain number of minutes in the season.

The buildup to the first Madrid derby of the season had been surrounded by controversy over Vinícius’ dancing during his goal celebrations. Vinícius, who is Black, had criticized racist language used by a television sports talk show guest about his dances. The 22-year-old forward had said his actions were being criminalized but insisted he wouldn’t stop showing his happiness on the field.

Atlético midfielder Koke Resurrección predicted there could be trouble if Vinícius danced again at the Metropolitano, but there was no major reaction by Atlético players after the Brazilians danced following Madrid’s first goal.

Atlético fans did not hold back from showing their displeasure, though. And before the match, a video posted online apparently showed Atlético supporters calling Vinícius “a monkey” in chants outside the Metropolitano stadium.

Rodrygo was in the starting lineup again to make up for the absence of striker Karim Benzema, who has missed three straight games because of a tendon injury.

Rodrygo opened the scoring with a neat one-timer from inside the area after a perfect lob by midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni over the defense in the 18th minute. Valverde added to the lead off the rebound of a shot by Vinícius that hit the post in a 36th-minute breakaway after an assist by Luka Modric. Valverde celebrated his goal by doing a yoga pose.

Atlético pulled one closer in the 83rd with a goal from Mario Hermoso, who was sent off in stoppage time for an altercation with a Madrid player inside the area.

Atlético looked more in control throughout the match but couldn't threaten much, while Madrid constantly appeared dangerous with the speed of Rodrygo and Vinícius up front.

Atlético and Portugal forward João Félix was replaced in the second half with an apparent muscle injury.

LOPETEGUI UNDER PRESSURE

Sevilla's struggles continued with a 1-1 draw at Villarreal, leaving the club near the relegation zone and increasing the pressure on coach Julen Lopetegui.

It was Sevilla's seventh game without a win in eight matches in all competitions. It sat only one point from the relegation zone after six league matches.

Lopetegui, the former Spain and Real Madrid coach, has been under fire because of the team's poor start and many fans have called for a change in command. Sevilla entered the season amid high expectations after a fourth-place finish in 2021-22, when it often stayed near the top.

“I'm not going to talk about the future, that's very complicated,” Lopetegui said. “I can only talk about the present. There is still a lot to be played for and we will try to get better and compete.”

Sevilla's only win this season was at Espanyol in the league last weekend. It took the lead on Sunday with a goal by Óliver Torres in the eighth minute after an assist by Isco Alarcón, but Álex Baena equalized for the hosts in the 51st.

Villarreal was looking for its fourth win in six league matches.

BETIS RALLIES

Real Betis joined Real Madrid and Barcelona as the only teams with five league wins by coming from behind to defeat Girona 2-1.

Borja Iglesias scored for the hosts in the 15th and 71st minutes, after midtable Girona had opened the scoring with a goal from Arnau Martínez in the seventh.

GETAFE STAYS HOT

Getafe won 2-0 at 10-man Osasuna for its second consecutive win after a poor start to the season.

The hosts played with 10 men from the 43rd minute after Chimy Ávila was sent off with a straight red card for a hard foul.

Juan Iglesias put Getafe ahead in the 30th and Gastón Álvarez added to the lead in the 76th.

SOCIEDAD REBOUNDS

Real Sociedad rebounded from a loss at Getafe by beating Espanyol 2-1 at home with first-half goals by Alexander Sorloth and Brais Méndez.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

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

Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press