MADRID - David De Gea cemented his status
as a potential future Spain goalkeeper when he saved a penalty
at a crucial moment in 10-man Atletico Madrid's 3-0 home win
over Real Mallorca in La Liga on Monday.
The lanky 20-year-old, tipped to one day succeed World
Cup-winning keeper Iker Casillas, leaped to his left to palm
away Pierre Webo's 70th-minute spot-kick and prevent Mallorca
from making it 2-1.
Atletico captain Antonio Lopez conceded the penalty when he
tangled with Emilio Nsue on the edge of the area and was shown a
straight red card.
Mallorca had looked hungrier in the early stages at the
Calderon before defender Juan Valera put the home side ahead
when he glanced in a header from a Jose Antonio Reyes corner in
the 13th minute.
Uruguay striker Diego Forlan, who had not scored in the
league since November, doubled the lead just after the half hour
when he sprinted on to Fran Merida's through ball and rounded
goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.
Tempers frayed late on and Mallorca midfielder Jonathan de
Guzman was sent off in the 87th minute for a late tackle on
Juanfran which sparked a round of pushing and shoving.
The dismissal took the spark out of the Balearic Islanders
and Reyes exploited a huge gap at the back to add a third in
Atletico's victory lifted the Europa League champions back
into the European qualification places in sixth on 30 points at
the halfway stage of the season, one ahead of Athletic Bilbao
and four behind Espanyol in fifth.
"It was a difficult one and I was lucky to be able to stop
it but I am very happy," De Gea said in a television interview.
"It was a very good performance by the team tonight,
especially in defence," he added.
Mallorca, coached by former Danish international Michael
Laudrup, are ninth on 27 points, the same number as
Champions Barcelona extended their lead over Real Madrid to
four points when they beat Malaga 4-1 on Sunday and Real were
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