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Football
Atletico Madrid thrive under new management
Falcao scores a hat-trick to continue Atletico Madrid's good start under Diego Simeone as Espanyol stretch unbeaten run
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2012 23:00
Argentine Diego Simeone has had a positive start as manager of former club Atletico Madrid [GALLO/GETTY]

Atletico Madrid earned their first away victory in the Spanish league by beating Real Sociedad 4-0 on Saturday thanks to Radamel Falcao's hat trick.

Atletico, who are unbeaten in three games under new coach Diego Simeone, caught Sociedad flatfooted in the opening moments of both halves to go up 2-0.

Falcao stroked home a spot kick to give Atletico the lead just three minutes in after Vadim Demidov was booked for a handball inside the area.

Sociedad struggled to threaten the visitors' area as rain fell steadily at Anoeta Stadium until Carlos Vela saw his shot turned wide by a defender just before halftime.

Adrian Lopez volleyed in his own rebound after Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo blocked his header off a pass from Juanfran Torres to extend Atletico's advantage in the 47th.

Falcao then caught Bravo off his line with a chip shot from outside the area in the 83rd, and the former Porto star sealed Sociedad's first loss in eight league fixtures with a goal in stoppage time by slicing in a pass from Arda Turan.

The Colombia striker, who leads Atletico with 14 goals in league play this season, also scored twice in last week's 3-0 win over Villarreal.

Tribute to former captain 

Elsewhere, Espanyol overcame a depleted front line to defeat Granada 3-0 at home.

With injured strikers Sergio Garcia and Alvaro Vazquez unavailable, Mauricio Pochettino turned to his midfield to produce goals.

Raul Baena put Espanyol in front with a header in the 26th and playmaker Joan Verdu added a second from the penalty spot after Vladimir Weiss was fouled by Allan Nyom just before halftime.

"The match may have looked like a walk in the park but it was far from it"

Espanyol manager Mauricio Pochettino

Substitute Rui Fonte capped the victory with a goal in the 80th by tapping in a free kick by Ndri Romaric that had come off the crossbar.

Espanyol's fifth game without a loss lifted them provisionally into fifth place in the standings.

Before the match Espanyol unveiled a statue of Dani Jarque, the former captain who died of a heart attack in 2009, at Cornella-El Prat Stadium.

"The match may have looked like a walk in the park but it was far from it,"' Pochettino said.

"Today was special for us to pay tribute to our eternal captain."

Getafe dealt Racing Santander their first loss in six weeks since the exit of coach Hector Cuper with a 2-1 comeback win secured by Nicolas 'Miku' Fedor in the 83rd minute, while a 10-man Sevilla drew 1-1 at Real Betis in the first Seville
derby in nearly three years.

League leaders Real Madrid host the in-form Athletic Bilbao on Sunday before second-place Barcelona visit Malaga.

Barcelona then host Madrid on Wednesday in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal after winning the away leg 2-1.

Source:
Agencies
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