Atletico Madrid maintain form ahead of international break

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MADRID, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Atletico Madrid go into the international break maintaining their excellent recent form with a 3-0 win at home over struggling Valencia.

Antoine Griezmann put Atletico ahead with a curling shot in the 22nd minute to help his club on their way to a fifth win in six games.

Hugo Duro had his equalizing goal for Valencia ruled out for a prior foul eight minutes later. In the second half, Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Lemar sealed a comfortable win for Diego Simeone's side to climb up within five points behind Real Madrid, who travel to play FC Barcelona on Sunday.

Earlier in the day Rayo Vallecano and Girona shared four goals in an entertaining match in which Rayo twice took the lead, only for the visitors to twice peg them back.

Isi Palizon's magnificent dipping shot opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, only for Viktor Tsyhankov's first goal of the game to make it 1-1 in the 29th minute.

Oscar Trejo scored an individual goal to put Rayo back in form in the 34th minute, but Tsyhankov's second of the game saved a point for Girona early in the second half, after Rayo had missed a penalty in almost comical fashion after Trejo and Isi tried to pass instead of shoot.

Celta Vigo continue their improvement at the expense of Espanyol, with Iago Aspas celebrating his return to the Spain squad with a 45th minute penalty, which put his side 2-0 up after Gabri Veiga had opened the scoring.

Carles Perez added a third, before Jose Gragera netted a consolation goal for Espanyol, who are again deep in trouble.

Gonzalo Melero scored a 96th-minute penalty to save a point for Almeria in their relegation battle with Cadiz, who looked to be set for a win after Roger Marti's close-range opener in the 49th minute.

Athletic Club Bilbao moved up to seventh on Friday night as Inigo Martinez, Gorka Guruzeta and Mikel Vesga gave them a 3-1 win away to Valladolid. Enditem

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