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Félix scores against former club again and Barcelona routs Atletico 3-0. Almeria ends winless streak

MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid fans burned a João Félix jersey before their team's match against Barcelona. They also vandalized a plaque with his name and insulted the player outside the Metropolitano Stadium.

But when the match started, the Portugal forward answered those fans on the field.

Félix struck against his former club again on Sunday, scoring the opening goal in Barcelona's 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league.

Robert Lewandowski and Fermín López also scored for Barcelona, which moved to second place with its fifth straight league victory over Atletico.

Félix had scored the winner in the Catalan club’s 1-0 win in the league in December. The Portugal international is playing on loan from Atletico after falling out with the club last season.

Félix was loudly jeered by the Atletico fans at the Metropolitano Stadium when he was replaced in the 77th. The forward arrived at Atletico for 120 million euros (now $130 million) in 2019 but never fully met the high expectations that came with his signing.

Félix opened the scoring from the middle of the area after a pass by Lewandowski in the 38th minute, becoming the first Barcelona player to score in both matches against Atletico in a single league season since Lionel Messi in 2019-20.

Lewandowski added to the lead in a breakaway after Atletico midfielder Rodrigo De Paul gave away possession with a bad pass early in the second half, and the Poland striker set up López's header for Barcelona's third goal in the 65th.

“Certainly it was our most complete match,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández said.

Atletico defender Nahuel Molina was sent off in stoppage time for a foul on Vitor Roque to stop a breakaway. Xavi was sent off before halftime for protesting.

It was Atletico’s first league loss at the Metropolitano Stadium since January 2023 — also 1-0 against Barcelona. It was also Atletico’s worse loss at home in any competition.

“They were better than us today,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.

The win added to Barcelona's momentum after it eliminated Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday to make it to the tournament's quarterfinals for the first time in four years.

Unbeaten in eight league matches, Barcelona moved two points ahead of third-place Girona, which lost 1-0 at Getafe on Saturday. Barcelona is eight points behind leader Real Madrid, which won 4-2 at Osasuna on Saturday.

Atletico eliminated Inter Milan in the round of 16 of the Champions League at the Metropolitano on Wednesday, but it has lost six of its last 10 matches across all competitions, with only three wins in that streak.

Simeone's team dropped out of the Champions League places with the loss on Sunday. It is one point behind fourth-place Athletic Bilbao, which won 2-0 against Alaves on Saturday.

ALMERIA ENDS WINLESS STREAK

Almeria's winless streak in the Spanish league is finally over.

The last-place team from southern Spain beat Las Palmas 1-0 to pick up its first win after going 28 consecutive games without a victory in the league this season, the most ever by any team.

Almeria now has one win, 10 draws and 18 defeats.

Léo Baptistão scored in the 14th minute to give Almeria the win in the debut of coach Pepe Mel.

“We snapped a historic streak,” said Mel, who was hired this week to replace Gaizka Garitano. “This is the path we must stay on for these last nine finals.”

Almeria is 14 points from safety with nine matches remaining. The Saudi-owned club had drawn four of its last five league matches.

Baptistão scored from close range after a pass from Largie Ramazani following a breakaway. The goal was only one of the two shots on target by Almeria.

“It's a relief,” Baptistão said. “We deserved to have won by now. We have to keep believing.”

Las Palmas, winless in five consecutive league matches, stayed in 11th place.

RAYO WINS

Rayo Vallecano ended a 10-match winless streak in all competitions with a 2-0 win over seventh-place Real Betis.

Florian Lejeune and Sergio Camello scored a goal each for Rayo, which moved to 15th place.

It was the third consecutive loss for Betis, which won only once in its last seven games across all tournaments.

CELTA RALLIES

Celta Vigo, the first team outside the relegation zone, rallied late to win 2-1 at Sevilla and opened a five-point gap on 18th-place Cadiz.

Carles Pérez scored for Celta in the 72nd and Jorgen Strand Larsen in the 78th after the hosts had taken the lead with an 18th-minute goal by Youssef En-Nesyri.

Sevilla, winless in four of its last five league matches, stayed 16th. It's one point ahead of Celta.

VILLARREAL TOPS VALENCIA

Villareal beat Valencia 1-0 for its fourth straight league win following a three-match losing run.

Jorge Cuenca scored a 54th-minute winner for ninth-place Villarreal, which moved two points behind eighth-place Valencia.

Valencia has only one win in its last five league games.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer