10-man Atletico hold off Espanyol

Radamel Falcao's first-half spot kick was enough to lift 10-man Atletico Madrid to a thrilling 1-0 victory over Espanyol on Sunday at the Vicente Calderon.

It was a physical affair right from the start Espanyol midfielder Juan Forlin was shown a yellow card just six minutes into the game and referee Carlos Clos Gomez produced an astounding seven yellow cards in the first half.

Atletico's breakthrough came in the 38th minute when Diego Costa slipped through the Espanyol backline and was dragged down to earn a penalty kick.

Falcao stepped up to the spot and calmly fired it past Espanyol goalkeeper Francisco Casilla to give the hosts the 1-0 lead, but by no means was that lead safe.

Right on the stroke of halftime, Atletico midfielder Gabi was shown a second yellow card, reducing the home side to 10 men for the entire second half.

Espanyol sent 12 shots toward the Atletico net, but only one on frame as the Atletico backline held firm over the second 45 minutes to escape with all three points.

Atletico pull to within 12 points of La Liga leaders Barcelona with the victory, while Espanyol falls to 13th place with 31 points from 25 matches.

Valladolid 2, Rayo Vallecano 1

Madrid, Spain - Manucho's tally 10 minutes from time lifted Valladolid to a 2-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas.

After a scoreless first half, Valladolid opened the scoring in the 71st minute through Henrique Sereno, who got his head to a cross from Alberto Bueno and nodded it into the net for the 1-0 advantage.

But just one minute later, Vallecano found an equalizer off the foot of Jordi Amat, who launched a shot from well outside the box into the top right corner of the net.

Eight minutes later, Manucho ran onto a pass from Bueno and slotted a shot home to secure all three points for Valladolid, who rise to 11th place with 33 points, while Vallecano remains in eighth place with 37 points.

Celta Vigo 2, Granada 1

Vigo, Spain - Mario Bermejo's tally nine minutes from time lifted Celta Vigo to a 2-1 result over Granada at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos.

The hosts opened the scoring 24 minutes into the match when Iago Aspas ripped a left-footed strike into the bottom left corner of the net, but just four minutes later, Granada found the tying goal through Odion Ighalo.

It remained deadlocked until Bermejo collected a headed pass from Aspas in the box and slipped it home to give the home side the victory.

Vigo came out on the positive side for just the sixth time this campaign and still find themselves in the bottom three with 23 points, while Granada remain in 14th place.

Real Betis 3, Malaga 0

Seville, Spain - Jorge Molina scored just one minute into the contest on Sunday and Real Betis cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win over Malaga at the Benito Villamarin.

After such a fast start, Mario Alvarez made it 2-0 for Betis in the 28th minute and Dorlan Pabon scored a third for the hosts just before halftime to wrap up the victory.

Betis put the brakes on a three-game winless run in La Liga and moved into seventh place with 39 points, while Malaga remain in fourth place on 42 points.