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  HOME | Sports (Click here for more)

Espanyol Keeps Slim Europa League Hopes Alive with 3-0 Rout of Atletico

CORNELLA DE LLOBREGAT, Spain Ė Espanyol can still dream of a berth in next seasonís Europa League after a 3-0 home victory Saturday over Atletico Madrid in late-season LaLiga action.

The Periquitos stretched their unbeaten streak to seven games with the Matchday 36 of 38 win at RCDE Stadium, while Atletiís performance was one of their worst of the season.

The visitors posed a slightly greater threat against the opposing goal than Espanyol did heading into the closing moments of the first half but lacked the necessary precision on the final touch.

Espanyol, however, took the lead at the intermission thanks to an outstanding individual effort by left back Adria Pedrosa, who sprinted almost the full length of the field before sending in a cross parallel to the goal line that defender Diego Godin inadvertently booted into the back of the net in a botched clearance.

Although the Periquitos have squandered numerous leads this season, things were different on Saturday.

Borja Iglesias gave the home side one insurance goal in the 52nd minute when he received a precise pass from Oscar Melendo and fired an angled shot past keeper Jan Oblak.

Espanyol nearly made the score 3-0 on a shot by Sergi Darder in minute 68 that was set up by another rapid run down the field by Pedrosa, but Oblak managed to come up with the save.

The home side, however, eventually got a third goal on a penalty conversion by Iglesias after Juanfran fouled late substitute Javi Puado in the area.

With the win, Espanyol provisionally moved up to ninth place with 47 points. They are still five points behind sixth-placed Valencia, who will book a berth in the second qualifying stage of the 2019-2020 Europa League if they can maintain that spot.

The fifth-placed LaLiga team earns a direct berth into the group stage of next seasonís Europa League, Europeís secondary club soccer competition.

Atletico Madrid are in second place with two games remaining and have already secured one of four LaLiga berths in next seasonís Champions League, the continentís premier club soccer tournament.

FC Barcelona clinched the LaLiga title last weekend.

 

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