03.03.2024 20:45 h

Girona slump at Mallorca to lose ground in Liga title chase

Girona's surprising Spanish title challenge continued to subside as they lost 1-0 at Mallorca on Sunday.

Girona remained second in La Liga but the defeat meant their Catalan rivals Barcelona had a chance to overtake them when they faced Bilbao in the day's final game.

Girona have won only once in their last five league games but they entered Sunday's match in Palma with a chance to regain some ground after leaders Real Madrid drew 2-2 at Valencia on Saturday

That game ended in controversy as Real's Jude Bellingham, who thought he had just scored the winner, was sent off for protesting after his strike was ruled out because the referee had blown the final whistle.

Instead, Girona ended the weekend seven points off first place.

Mallorca, fresh from reaching the Copa del Rey final by winning a semi-final against Real Sociedad on penalties, scored the only goal after 33 minutes.

Following a corner, the ball rebounded off Mallorca's Cyle Larin and fell to Jose-Manuel Copete in space less than 10 metres out. The defender smashed a shot in off the underside of the bar.

Girona claimed the ball hit Larin's hand but replays were inconclusive.

Girona enjoyed a slight edge in possession but struggled to create clear-cut chances as they failed to score for the third time in five games.

The victory pulled Mallorca up to 15th, eight points clear of the relegation places.

Earlier, Atletico Madrid ended a run of three winless games as they edged Real Betis 2-1 to tighten their grip on fourth place.

Atletico took the lead after eight minutes with help from the visitors.

Memphis Depay drove a cross toward Alvaro Morata, lurking at the far post, but the ball never reached the Spain striker as three Betis players combined to put the ball into their own net.

Hector Bellerin scuffed the ball onto team-mate German Pezzella who deflected it toward the line where goalkeeper Rui Silva could only parry it into his own goal.

Rui Silva brought down Morata to concede a 27th minute penalty but the goalkeeper saved the spot kick and two follow-up attempts by Morata.

Morata found the target in the 43rd minute, nodding in a rebound from close range after Rui Silva saved a shot by Rodrigo de Paul.

William Carvalho pulled one back for Betis with a long-range blast after 62 minutes.

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak pushed a shot from Guido Rodriguez onto the post as Atletico absorbed late Betis pressure.

In the day's opening game, Alexander Sorloth scored a hat-trick as Villarreal crushed struggling Granada 5-1.