Shock at the top of La Liga as both Barcelona and Atletico are held to 1-1 draws, which allowed Real Madrid to close within a point of the leaders in what is becoming the tightest title race ever in Spain.
Real ran out easy 5 nil winners away at bottom club Real Betis. The hosts made a positive start to the game pressurising Real and threatening to open the scoring, however it was Ronaldo that did so with arguably his best goal of the season. Receiving the ball on the left hand side dribbled it infield beating off a Betis challenge before blasting it in the top corner. That was his 21st league goal in 20 games. Betis continued playing neat football but were always at risk with Real’s breath taking counters. Bale added a second for Real from a free kick, with the keeper only moving to pick the ball out of his net. Benzema added a 3rd just before the break, after Modric glided past 3 Betis challenges into the box, laying it off for a neat finish. De Maria hit the fourth, scoring from 35 yards out after a corner was played out to him. Morata finished the scoring in injury time after the ball was played across the box from Marcelo leaving Morata with an easy finish.
Barcelona dropped points for only the fourth time this season, drawing 1 1 with Levante at the Cuidad de Valencia. Barcelona played their usual brand of keep ball, forcing Levante to defend in numbers which they did effectively restricting Barcelona’s supply. It was Levante who took the lead through Loukas Vyntra, the Greek international meeting an out swinging corner to put the hosts into the lead. Barcelona equalised 9 minutes later with Gerard Pique rising to head Xavi’s cross in. Usually Barcelona would accelerate from this point to secure the win, but it was not meant to be. The first half ended in a scrappy affair with not much being created. The second half followed suit however there was some moments of brilliance by Messi which was matched with a fantastic save by Keylor Navas, Xavi’s follow up was met by a goal line clearance then Messi again was denied by a great Navas save. Barcelona pushed in added time but Levante’s defence held firm to pull off a shock result at home.
With Barcelona slipping up the stage was set for an Atletico Madrid win to put them top, however a gutsy performance by Sevilla, and an uncharacteristically poor performance from Atletico kept the hosts level on points with Barcelona at the top. Atleti did not start the game with their usual intensity missing a host of good chances and hitting the side netting several times. However that soon changed when on 18 minutes the ball fell out to David Villa who shot through a group of bodies to hit the back of the net, his first goal in 6 league games. Sevilla were cautious in the first half however missed 2 chances near the end of the half to go in behind. The second half was a tight affair of very few chances, and Sevilla having more possession than the first. With 17 minutes remaining, defender Juanfran was caught tangling with Bacca in the area, the referee pointing to the spot to award a penalty against Atleti for the first time this season. Rakitic duly put the spot kick away to level the scores. Atleti were unable to rally themselves, even with the sending off of Sevilla’s Moreno through a rash challenge on Raul Garcia, the score finishing 1-1.
The weekends games started with Malaga and Valencia playing out a nil nil draw. In a game of few chances and poor finishing, neither team could get on top.
Elche pushed fellow strugglers Rayo Vallecano further into trouble with a 2 0 win. Raul Baena was sent off on 19 minutes for bringing down a Coro in the box, Edu Albacar scoring for the hosts from the spot kick. Javi Marquez doubled their lead with 10 remaining. Osasuna stretched their unbeaten run to 5 games with a nil nil draw away to Grenada. Espanyol scored late through Sergio Garcia to deny Celta Vigo a good point in Saturday’s final match.
Getafe came from 2 behind and played the final half hour with 10 men after Borja was sent off. Two goals from Imanol Agirretxe put Sociedad 2 up in the first 16 minutes. Ciprian Marica pulled one back before Pedro Leon pulled the come back off in front of a near empty stadium. Villareal scored at the start and end of the game to boost their champions league hopes in Sundays other game, Ikechukwu Uche and Bruno Soriano on the score sheet.
The weeks final game saw Bilbao entertain Valladolid to put them back into fourth in the league. Oscar putting Valladolid ahead after 15 minutes and lead until 65 minutes until Ibai Gomez equalised. Oscar de Marcos putting Bilbao ahead on 75 before Gomez scored his second and Bilbao’s third. Ander Herrera scored Bilbao’s fourth before substitute Valdet Rama pulled one back for Valladolid in stoppage time.
Athletic Bilbao 4-2 Valladolid
Atletico Madrid 1-1 Sevilla
Elche 2-0 Rayo Vallecano
Espanyol 1-0 Celta Vigo
Getafe 2-2 Sociedad
Granada 0-0 Osasuna
Levante 1-1 Barcelona
Malaga 0-0 Valencia
Real Betis 0-5 Real Madrid
Villareal 2-0 Almeria
Table courtesy of Fifa.com
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