Soccer PIX: Atletico slump to defeat; win for Napoli

Football action from across Europe in matches played on Saturday

Atletico Madrid’s hopes of finishing second in La Liga and securing a spot in the next Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia took a blow as they lost 2-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

They remain fourth on 61 points, three behind second-placed Sevilla, who were held to a 1-1 home draw by relegation-threatened Cadiz on Friday, and two off third-placed Barcelona, who have a game in hand and host lowly Mallorca on Sunday.

Coach Diego Simeone’s worries are not just about a Super Cup spot as Atletico are only four points ahead of fifth-placed Real Betis, who have a game in hand and visit Getafe on Monday.

Only La Liga’s top-four go into the Champions League.

On a day highlighted by Real Madrid’s title celebrations, after they had earlier won 4-0 at home to Espanyol, an uninspired Atletico were dominated by the hosts.

Athletic, who are now eighth on 51 points, went ahead in the eighth minute when defender Mario Hermoso deflected the ball into his own goal from a cross-shot by Inaki Williams.

Atletico, without their in-form forward Joao Felix for the rest of the season with a leg injury, were constantly threatened by Williams and Iker Muniain, being saved by the post once and by two great stops from goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

But Athletic scored a deserved second in the 56th with a penalty by Williams after Muniain was tripped by Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera. Williams netted with a ‘Panenka’ chip down the middle of the goal as Oblak fell to his left.

Napoli back to winning ways after hitting Sassuolo for six

Four goals in the opening 21 minutes helped Napoli to complete a 6-1 thrashing of Sassuolo on Saturday, a win that ensured Luciano Spalletti’s side closed the gap on Serie A leaders AC Milan to four points.

Two defeats in their last three matches had seen Napoli fall behind Milan as the season draws to a close, making a win over mid-table Sassuolo imperative if Spalletti’s team are to have any chance of securing a first Scudetto since 1990 this term.

The victory, however, was never in doubt as two headers from corners by defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Victor Osimhen put the hosts 2-0 in front inside 15 minutes in the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

A tap-in from Hirving Lozano and a fine Dries Mertens finish made it 4-0 before the clock had passed 21 minutes, with Sassuolo heading for an embarrassing defeat.

It took until the 54th minute for Napoli to add a fifth as Mertens netted his second of the match, with Amir Rrahmani firing home the sixth 10 minutes from time to complete the rout.

Maxime Lopez’s late consolation for the visitors mattered little as the emphatic victory moved Napoli on to 70 points, four behind Milan, who face Fiorentina on Sunday. Sassuolo stay 10th on 46 points.

Mainz outclass champions Bayern Munich 3-1

Champions Bayern Munich suffered a 3-1 loss at Mainz 05 on Saturday following a toothless appearance, only a week after the high of clinching their 10th straight Bundesliga crown.

Mainz outclassed the visitors throughout the game and could have scored several more goals, with Bayern in no mood to put up a real fight after winning their only silverware of the season last week.

Mainz took the lead with Jonathan Burkardt’s missile from 14 metres in the 18th minute.

The hosts, who had 24 efforts towards goal compared to Bayern’s four, scored again when scored Moussa Niakhate stabbed in at the far post from a corner.

Bayern had to wait a half hour for their first good chance and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting hitting the woodwork.

They did pull a goal back with Bundesliga top striker Robert Lewandowski bagging his 18th away goal of the season for a new league record and his 34th league goal.

But just as Bayern piled on the pressure after the break Mainz struck again thanks a textbook break and a deflection of Leandro Barreiro’s shot in the 57th to restore their two-goal cushion.

Dortmund suffer shock loss to Bochum despite Haaland hat-trick

VfL Bochum scored twice in the final nine minutes, including an 85th-minute penalty through Milos Pantovic, to snatch a 4-3 victory at Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

The result kept Dortmund a point short of securing second spot with two games remaining, with the Ruhr valley club in second place on 63. It also handed Bochum their first win at Dortmund since 1998.

In a seven-goal, drama-filled encounter Erling Haaland scored a hat-trick to carry Dortmund from 2-0 down to lead 3-2.

Visitors Bochum got off to a dream start in their local derby and were 2-0 up by the eighth minute thanks to goals from Sebastian Polter and Gerrit Holtmann.

The hosts quickly recovered and pulled a goal back with Haaland’s 16th-minute penalty.

The Norwegian was far from done and he bagged his second with another spot kick on the half-hour mark.

The 21-year-old thought he had completed their comeback with a tap-in and a lucky bounce in the 62nd but Bochum came back once more, levelling though Juergen Locadia in the 81st and Pantovic’s penalty for a memorable win in the local derby.

Dortmund are on 63 points, eight ahead of third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, who host Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday.

Bayern Munich, who secured their 10th straight league title last week, are on 75 following their 3-1 loss to Mainz 05.

Rennes keep Champions League hopes alive with St Etienne win

Stade Rennais kept their hopes of securing a direct qualifying spot for next season’s Champions League alive when they beat struggling St Etienne 2-0 at home in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Lovro Majer scored both goals in the 41st and 84th minutes to put third-placed Rennes on 62 points with three games left, three behind Olympique de Marseille who host Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday.

The top two qualify directly for the Champions League group stage while the third-placed side will play in the third qualifying round.

Paris St Germain, who drew 3-3 at Racing Strasbourg on Friday, have already been crowned champions last weekend.

Rennes dominated possession early on but could not get a shot on target until shortly before halftime, when Majer found the back of the net with a clinical half volley.

Majer was at it again near the end with a low shot from close range, to leave St Etienne in 18th place on 31 points, two points from the safety zone.

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