Last Updated: 03/02/19 8:20pm
Alvaro Morata had an unconvincing debut as Atletico Madrid lost 1-0 at Real Betis on Sunday, their first loss in 19 league games.
Atletico could have gone within three points of La Liga leaders Barcelona after the Catalan club were held by Valencia to a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp on Saturday, but a second-half penalty from Sergio Canales inflicted a first league defeat since the third game of the season in September.
Atletico now trails Barcelona by six points after 22 matches. Diego Simeone’s team were unbeaten since a 2-0 loss at Celta Vigo in the third round of games. The set-back at Benito Villamarin Stadium was only the third loss for Atletico in 33 games in all competitions this season.
Midfielder Canales converted the 65th-minute penalty after Atletico defender Filipe Luis was penalised for a handball inside the area.
The victory was Betis’ first against Atletico since Simeone took over the Madrid club late in 2011 and moved the Sevilla side to sixth in the league.
Morata, Atletico’s biggest signing in the winter transfer window, played from the start but had little influence on the game. The former Real Madrid striker arrived last week on a 18-month loan from Chelsea.
Villarreal continued their disappointing season with a 2-2 draw against Espanyol. 19th-placed Villarreal squandered a two-goal lead as their winless streak reached nine league matches.
The match marked the return of coach Javi Calleja, who was re-hired last week less than two months after being fired by the club.
He replaced Luis Garcia Plaza, who was let go after winning only one of his nine matches after taking over. Espanyol, winless in five matches in all competitions, are 14th.