Soccer-Atletico go top as Real held in Ronaldo red mist


(Adds late games)

By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid took advantage of Barcelona's slip-up to go top of La Liga with a 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad as Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao and Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off on Sunday.

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Ronaldo was dismissed with 15 minutes left in a hard-fought clash with Bilbao for pushing Carlos Gurpegui in the face and getting involved in a confrontation with Ander Iturraspe.

Real were looking to move up to second with their sixth successive league win and Jese put them ahead after 65 minutes before substitute Ibai Gomez responded for the Basque side.

"It is difficult to judge, the pictures suggest it was all a bit exaggerated," Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference of the Ronaldo red card.

"It was a good game played at a high tempo and we did well in the second half. It could have been different after we went ahead but then they scored a great equaliser. Overall I am happy."

Atletico moved three points clear of Barcelona with victory over Sociedad at the Calderon where fans gave an emotional send-off to former coach and player Luis Aragones who died on Saturday.

Real remained third, behind Barca, who lost at home to Valencia on Saturday, on goal difference.

After a cagey opening David Villa put Atletico ahead on 38 minutes before going off injured and second-half goals to Diego Costa, Joao Miranda and Diego sealed the win.

There was a poignant minute's silence before kickoff for Aragones, the coach of Spain's Euro-2008 winning side, and who put in place the tactics and mentality that helped them win the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

Aragones, who died on Saturday, played for Atletico for over a decade during the 1960s and early 1970s as well as coaching the side on four separate occasions.

"From above he will be wearing the red and white and be happy with our effort," Atletico coach Diego Simeone told a news conference.

"It was difficult game despite the result and the goals at the end. Real Sociedad caused problems for us despite not having good chances to score. It doesn't bother me to defend but we were finding it tough to attack and create openings."


Mario Suarez was fit to play his first game after almost three months out for Atletico who were frustrated by a Sociedad side that packed the midfield and gave them little room to build play.

A mistake by full back Carlos Martinez allowed in Costa who slipped the ball back for Villa to side-foot home from close range.

Villa pulled up holding his leg minutes later and had to be replaced by Raul Garcia.

After the break Sociedad showed more attacking intent but Garcia set up Costa to finish clinically and Miranda headed home a corner with the visitors' resistance broken. New signing Diego, having come on as a substitute, was also on target three minutes from the end.

Real began against Bilbao with the in-form Jese on the right wing and Gareth Bale still not fully fit from a calf injury.

The visitors made a good start as both Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria went close with efforts and Athletic looked shaky at the back.

Gradually Athletic came back into the game and began to put pressure on the Real defence with Aritz Aduriz turning well but missing the target from the edge of the area.

Jese got the breakthrough when he slid home a Ronaldo pass but Gomez equalised with a fine strike from the edge of area which nestled into the corner.

Ronaldo then lost his temper as he clashed with Gurpegui and Iturraspe and was given his marching orders.

Earlier on Sunday, Christian Herrera gave Elche a 1-0 win over Almeria and a Ruben Castro double gave bottom side Real Betis a 2-0 victory against Espanyol. (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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