La Liga talking points

·2-min read

MADRID (Reuters) - Talking points from the weekend's La Liga matches.

VALENCIA TAKE STAND AGAINST RACISM, REFEREE DOES NOT

Valencia became the first team in La Liga to walk off the pitch in protest against racist abuse when Mouctar Diakhaby said he had been subjected to a slur by Cadiz's Juan Cala, a firm response in a country which has historically been slow to take a stand against racism.

The referee, who reported that Diakhaby had told him he had been insulted, told Valencia they could be subject to a sanction if they did not resume the match.

The official's response contrasted with the swift action taken in a second division match between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete in 2019, which was suspended at halftime after Rayo fans taunted visiting striker Roman Zozulya.

ATLETICO ON BRINK OF THROWING TITLE AWAY

Atletico Madrid's once commanding lead at the top of La Liga crumbled further with a 1-0 defeat at Sevilla and it seems to be a question of when rather than if they will drop off the summit, with Barcelona and Real Madrid circling.

A two-week break in which many of their top players were not involved in internationals seemed to be exactly what they needed after a poor run of results, yet they looked even more out of sorts, barely getting hold of the ball and struggling to create chances.

They raged against the referee's decision to allow Marcos Acuna's winning goal despite an earlier handball and talked up their underdog status after the game, as coach Diego Simeone stressed that La Liga has mostly been a two-team league.

His side had a great opportunity to win the title when they moved 10 points clear at the summit in January, but Real are now only three points back and Barca have the chance to close the gap to one point if they beat Real Valladolid on Monday.

MORENO SHOWS SPAIN WHAT THEY MISSED

Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno showed Spain coach Luis Enrique what he missed out on by bagging a hat-trick in a 3-0 win at Granada to move on to six goals in his last three club games.

Moreno was looking forward to a run in the Spain team in their three World Cup qualifiers but an injury meant he could only play 21 minutes, although he did score in the 3-1 win over Kosovo.

He netted three times in an hour of play against Granada to move second in the league's scoring charts with 19 goals, level with Luis Suarez, ahead of Karim Benzema and only trailing Lionel Messi.

(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)