Atletico Madrid continued their dismal form with a 1-0 defeat by Real Mallorca on Wednesday, leaving them sixth in La Liga and searching for answers.
Kosovan powerhouse Vedat Muriqi’s 16th minute strike was enough to inflict a fourth league defeat of the season on Diego Simeone’s visitors, who are 13 points behind leaders Barcelona.
Atletico, knocked out of the Champions League, are winless in five games and at their lowest ebb since Simeone arrived in December 2011.
Meanwhile Real Sociedad moved third with a 2-1 win at struggling Sevilla, who had two men sent off in the first half.
With Atletico’s defence in disarray, the persistent Muriqi sent Mallorca ahead, finishing from close range for his eighth league goal of the season, meaning only Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski has scored more in La Liga.
Alvaro Morata thought he had put Atletico level with a sharp finish moments later but the forward was marginally offside and the goal was disallowed.
Atletico created nothing of note after that, while at the other end the silky Kang-in Lee caused problems, while Muriqi remained a menace.
The striker set up Amath Ndiaye on the break towards the end but Jan Oblak produced a fine save to deny the Senegalese winger.
Mallorca goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic made a stunning reaction save to deny Morata near the end as Atletico tried and failed to salvage even a point.
Axel Witsel’s 95th minute overhead kick looked like it could fly in but Rodrigo Battaglia headed it to safety in a thrilling finale, with the home side celebrating a rise to 10th.
– Real deal –
Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla, 17th, were unable to build on their derby point at the weekend and red cards for Ivan Rakitic and Tanguy Nianzou gave them an uphill struggle against Real Sociedad at a frustrated Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
Alexander Sorloth sent Real Sociedad ahead in the 20th minute with a well-measured chip over goalkeeper Bono after being fed by Mikel Merino.
Alex Remiro made a sublime save at full stretch to stop Isco from equalising, but after that Sevilla became their own worst enemy.
Rakitic and Nianzou were both sent off for ugly challenges on Brais Mendez, just six minutes apart.
Mendez punished Sevilla further by tucking home the second goal after another perfectly-weighted through-ball from Merino.
However Rafa Mir nodded Alex Telles’s cross past Remiro before the break to give his team a glimmer of hope, despite their numerical disadvantage.
Sorloth missed from point blank range after Bono deflected David Silva’s low shot into his path at an awkward height.
Sevilla stayed in the game but could not find an equaliser and also remain without a single win at home this season in the top flight.
“The situation is worrying, we will have to sit down with the club to see if we can solve this together,” said Sampaoli, who has only managed two wins from 10 games since being appointed in October.
“We need better players who can get at opponents, and solidity in some areas. We will see if we can do it with these players, or if some will arrive.”
Elsewhere Quique Setien earned his first win as Villarreal manager with a narrow 1-0 triumph at Espanyol, while Almeria beat Getafe by the same score.