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Madrid slip in race after loss to Sevilla

BARCELONA -- Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Sevilla on Wednesday in the aftermath of its stinging “clasico” defeat as it slipped behind in the Spanish title race, while Atletico Madrid and Barcelona kept winning to move ahead of their rival in the standings.

Cristiano Ronaldo put Madrid in charge with his league-leading 27th goal of the season in the 14th minute, but Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca scored twice, in the 19th and 73rd, to complete the comeback.

Madrid's loss at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium came four days after it squandered a chance to effectively end Barcelona's title defense, with Lionel Messi out-dueling Ronaldo by scoring a hat trick for a thrilling 4-3 win in the Spanish capital. These consecutive losses came after Carlo Ancelotti's side had gone undefeated for 31 straight matches.

“We have to keep working, fighting and ask our fans for forgiveness,” said Madrid full back Marcelo. “It's tough to do what we did, to keep winning for so many games. We have lost two games. They aren't more important, but they are critical. Now everything is much more difficult.”

Diego Costa's second-half header gave Atletico a 1-0 victory at home over Granada as it moved three points clear of Madrid with eight rounds remaining.

Lionel Messi and Neymar helped Barcelona stay one point behind Atletico as it rose into second place, but the 3-0 win over Celta Vigo came at the cost of goalkeeper Victor Valdes tearing a right knee ligament.

“I am happy for the goals and for having won the other day at the Santiago Bernabeu,” said Neymar. “(But) the victory is sad because of Valdes' injury.”

Ronaldo struck first at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium when his free kick took a deflection off the arm of Bacca, catching goalkeeper Antonio “Beto” Bastos out of position and helpless as he watched the ball float into his net.

But Bacca equalized from Jose Antonio Reyes' pass after Xabi Alonso had lost possession. Madrid then wasted several chances, and Sevilla tilted the match in its favor in the second half when Ivan Rakitic used a superb control of a pass before playing Bacca clear to beat goalie Diego Lopez for the winner.

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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, of Portugal, right, and Karim Benzema, of France, left, react during their La Liga soccer match against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville, Spain on Wednesday, March 26. (AP)

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