BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Sergio Ramos showed that he is still the boss of the box after the 37-year-old defender put in a characteristically tenacious performance to help Sevilla grind out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against his former club Real Madrid on Saturday.
Ramos was playing his first game against Madrid since returning to the Spanish league last month with Sevilla, his boyhood club.
David Alaba scored an own-goal to put Sevilla ahead in the 74th, but Dani Carvajal equalized for the league leaders with a header four minutes later.
Antoine Griezmann scored a hat trick for Atletico Madrid in a 3-0 win at 10-man Celta Vigo. Diego Simeone’s team is in second place, three points behind Madrid with one game in hand.
Girona is also three points back in third, one point more than Barcelona. Girona hosts Almeria, and Barcelona welcomes Athletic Bilbao, on Sunday.
Ramos started his career with Sevilla but soon moved to Madrid, where he won 22 trophies in 16 seasons — including four Champions League titles — before leaving in 2021. After two frustrating years with Paris Saint-Germain, the former Spain defender returned to Sevilla.
Ramos saved a goal-bound shot by former teammate Toni Kroos in the first half. The center back also had two late scoring chances to almost snatch the win for the hosts.
Ramos featured in some run-ins with Antonio Rudiger, who arrived at Madrid last season in part to fill the hole left by the aging Ramos. In one clash, Ramos grabbed the cheeks of Rudiger while the Germany defender held him as they exchanged words.
Ramos also clashed with Jude Bellingham, Madrid’s new star. Ramos elbowed Bellingham in the head during a corner and earned a yellow card for a foul on him in the second half.
Ramos, who scored several big goals in his career for Madrid, almost bagged a winner from two headers with the score at 1-1. Madrid keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was able to push the ball onto his post, and Ramos later sent the ball high with his second header in stoppage time.
The game’s final stretch was marred by a tussle between several players after Vinícius Júnior pushed Sevilla goalkeeper Orjan Nyland. That led to more serious shoves by several players, including Ramos and Vinícius.
When the final whistle blew, Ramos embraced with Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. The day before the game Ancelotti heaped praise on his former player, saying that Ramos’ stoppage-time equalizer in the 2014 Champions League final was a key moment in his career.
“I loved seeing him again,” Ancelotti said about Ramos after the game. “I said hello to him and wished him the best.”
The match was also the debut of former Uruguay coach Diego Alonso on Sevilla’s bench. Alonso replaced José Mendilibar before the recent international break to try and turn around Sevilla’s season with the club near the relegation zone.
The draw let Sevilla inch into 13th place.
“There is a long way to go,” Alonso said, “but this is the way to start building, based on the belief that we are able to play like we did today, playing without fear and facing (Madrid) as equals.”
Sevilla hosts Arsenal in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday, while Madrid is at Braga in Portugal.
Griezmann’s hat trick on the road put more pressure on Rafa Benítez, whose Celta team remained in the drop zone after just one win in 10 rounds.
Celta lost goalkeeper Ivan Villar in the 22nd when he received a direct red card for fouling Álvaro Morata with the open goal behind them. Vicente Guaita took over in goal but he could do nothing to stop Griezmann from picking the hosts apart.
Griezmann converted the resulting penalty, adding a second after a solo run in the 64th and capped a group passing move in the 70th. The France forward has seven goals in the league this season, only surpassed by Bellingham’s eight.
“Against 10 players, everything is easier,” Griezmann said.
Shortly after the game against Madrid, Sevilla said it had expelled a fan from its stadium and filed a complaint with police after the spectator allegedly displayed “xenophobic and racist behavior.” Sevilla did not specify what the behavior was, or any intended target.
Madrid star Vinícius Júnior, who is Black, has been targeted by racist abuse by rival fans on several occasions.
Brais Méndez scored from a pass by Takefusa Kubo to give Real Sociedad a 1-0 win over Mallorca before the Basque side visits Benfica on Tuesday in the Champions League.
Real Betis drew 1-1 at Getafe after Marc Roca scored for the visitors in the first minute and Borja Mayoral equalized shortly after.