Atletico Madrid’s disappointing season hit a new low with a 2-1 loss to third-division club Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
Atletico relinquished a late lead and then conceded early in extra time to be eliminated in the competition’s round of 32.
Atletico hadn’t been eliminated this early in the Copa since losing to Albacete at this stage in 2011-12, just before it hired coach Diego Simeone. That was the last time Atletico fell to a third-division club in the competition.
Cultural Leonesa’s French goalkeeper Lucas Giffard made a series of outstanding saves throughout the match, and Sergio Bonito scored an 108th-minute winner to put the small club from the northwestern city of Leon into the last 16 for the first time since 1959-60. Cultural Leonesa was eliminated by Barcelona in last year’s round of 32.
“We had our chances but their goalkeeper had a fantastic night. They played with ambition,” Simeone said. “This competition doesn’t allow for any mistakes.”
The crowd of nearly 13,000 at the Reino de Leon Stadium erupted after Benito scored with a shot from inside the area after the Atletico defense was caught out of position following a fast breakaway.
Angel Correa had given Atletico the lead with a left-footed shot from near the penalty spot after a nice one-touch pass by Joao Felix in the 62nd.
The hosts equalized with an 83rd-minute volley by Julen Castaneda after Atletico goalkeeper Antonio Adan couldn’t fully clear a cross into the area.
Atletico, which was coming off a 2-0 loss at Eibar in the Spanish league, failed to advance despite playing with many of its regular starters. Simeone’s team lost the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid earlier this year.
It trails Spanish league leaders Madrid and Barcelona by eight points after 20 matches. “We have no other option other than to keep working,” Simeone said. “I have a great squad and the results will come soon.”
Barcelona and Madrid both eliminated third-division opponents on Wednesday. Barcelona needed two late goals by Antoine Griezmann to defeat Ibiza 2-1, while Madrid beat Unionistas de Salamanca 3-1 with Gareth Bale scoring one of the goals.
Defending champion Valencia advanced to the last 16 by beating third-tier club Logrones 1-0. The Copa del Rey is being played with single-elimination games this season, except in the semifinals.
There will be no restrictions in Friday’s draw for the round of 16, though the lower-division clubs will get to play at home.
Four second-division teams advanced — Tenerife, Mirandes, Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano. The only other third-division club still alive is Badajoz.
Celta Vigo was upset by Mirandes 2-1 after extra time, while Eibar lost 3-1 to Badajoz. Leganes advanced with a 1-0 win over third-division club Ebro, while Real Betis lost to Rayo Vallecano 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Betis equalized late in regulation and Vallecano forced the shootout late in extra time.
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