, June 14, 2021

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Atletico Madrid Continue Slide with Shock Copa del Rey Exit

  •   2 min reads
Cultural Leonesa Advance in Copa del Rey
Cultural Leonesa players celebrate their shock victory over Atlético Madrid in the Copa del Rey. J Casares/Shutterstock.

Atlético Madrid's recent woes continued on Thursday night as they were ousted in the Copa del Rey round of 32 by Cultural Leonesa.

Diego Simeone's men succumbed to a team that plays in the Segunda División B — Spain's third tier — and the same division as Atlético Madrid's B team.

The Rojiblancos were fresh off a 2-0 loss to Eibar in La Liga, and have failed to produce goals time and again this campaign, currently sporting a 1.1 goals per game average, compared to 1.45 last season.

The same proved true tonight, as Atleti went ahead 1-0 on a 62nd-minute goal from Ángel Correa, but couldn't unlock another through 120 minutes. Cultural managed to respond in the 83rd minute behind a volley from Julen Castaneda, and with the match dead-locked after 90 minutes, the two squads prepared for extra time.

The winner from Sergio Bonito in the 108th minute may not have been as important as the saves from Cultural keeper Lucas Giffard, who made nine saves on the day—including several outstanding blocks late—to keep his team ahead.

The team from León will join just one other third-division club—Badajoz—in the round of 16. The draw to determine their respective opponents in the next round will take place on Friday.

The new single-elimination format of the Copa del Rey surely gives these lower-division sides better odds of advancing, while also bringing more excitement for fans. With two legs, it's unlikely Diego Simeone would have let his squad slip up again, but in a single away match, anything can happen.

Now Atlético will be able to focus on the 8-point gap between them and La Liga's first and second place clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Atleti face Leganes at the weekend before the February 1st Madrid derby against Real, in which they'll try to exact revenge for a recent penalty shoot-out loss in the Supercopa de España Final.

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