The best was saved to last this weekend, with Villarreal beating Málaga 2-3 in the Monday night game to move up to second in the table. Eliseu opened the scoring for the Andalusians in the fourth minute with a spectacular shot following Apoño's short free kick. However the visitors turned the scoreline around with two goals in as many minutes midway through the first half, Cazorla firing in a shot which deflected in to the net off Apoño's foot, and Rossi running on to Nilmar's through ball to roll a shot past Rubén. Rondón levelled the scores again soon afterwards, heading in a good cross from Quincy on the far post, but Cazorla restored the lead with just over half an hour gone after a quick passing move with Rossi and Nilmar. The locals were left with ten men however when Eliseu was sent off after clashing with Marchena, and after that things quietened down. Fernando had a possible equaliser ruled out after the break though for offside, and Nilmar and Cazorla both failed to convert further chances late on. (27.09.10)
Atlético Madrid moved up to fourth in the table after a 1-0 victory over bottom club Zaragoza in the last match on Sunday evening. Filipe Luis was making his debut for his new side, and after shooting just wide, he produced a sparkling run to set up his fellow countryman Diego Costa for the opening goal. A few minutes later visiting keeper Leo Franco hobbled off, and his replacement Doblas was soon in action to keep out Diego Costa. Zaragoza had not troubled De Gea in the first half, but soon after the restart the keeper was adjudged to have picked up a back pass near his own goal. Sinama-Pongolle fired his shot in to the wall though following the resulting indirect free kick, and although Reyes was sent off a few minutes later for an off-the-ball incident with Contini, José Aurelio Gay's side were unable to take advantage.
Sevilla drop out of the European spots after they were beaten 2-0 by Hércules earlier in the evening, a defeat which cost the job of Sevilla's manager Antonio Alvarez. Acosta tested Calatayud a couple of times early on, but Trézéguet put the home side ahead from the penalty spot after Zokora ran in to the back of Tiago Gomes in the twentieth minute. And a few minutes before the half time whistle the French striker scored his second of the evening, turning the ball in to the net off his knee after Kiko Femenia played back a long cross from Drenthe. Alvarez made two changes at the break and things improved, Luis Fabiano bringing a good save out of Calatayud from a free kick and Romaric firing a long shot against the post. But after that they ran out of ideas, and Trézéguet almost completed his hat-trick when he shot wide later on. Sevilla moved quickly to replace Alvarez after the match, Mallorca's ex coach Gregorio Manzano already named as his successor.
Espanyol jumped over Sevilla to sixth after a 1-0 win over Osasuna. Pochettino put out a side with six home-grown players in the line up, Alvaro Vázquez making a first start up front. The 19 year old striker was the star of the match, forcing Lolo in to a second yellow card and subsequent red with just twenty minutes gone, and then scoring the only goal, picking up the ball outside of the area after Flaño cleared a Javi Márquez cross and turning past a defender to beat Ricardo with an angled shot. Damià caused some problems for the local defence after the restart, but otherwise the Catalans were in control, and Alvaro tried his luck a couple more times before being substituted to a rousing ovation from the crowd. Osvaldo came on in his place for a first appearance since a short injury lay-off, and he too brought a couple of saves out of Ricardo before the final whistle. A third home win in a row, and things are looking good at Cornellà.
Very few goals though this Sunday, with only 15 scored pending the Monday night game. Getafe beat Racing Santander 0-1 to return to winning ways after their defeat midweek against Málaga. The match was billed as father against son, Adrián González leaving Michel's squad in the summer to join the Cantabrians, and it was the father who came out on top thanks to a strike by Víctor Sánchez early in the first half. It took some first class goalkeeping from Codina though to keep his side ahead, in particular from a couple of efforts by Rosenberg before the break. Pedro Ríos and Mané fired shots over the bar for the visitors either side of half time, and Ariel put Codina to the test a couple of times after the restart. But when Rosenberg picked up a second booking for a tackle from behind on Miguel Torres the game was up, and Getafe move three points clear of their opponents in the table.
Mallorca kept up their unbeaten home record, winning 2-0 against Real Sociedad to end the weekend in mid-table. Cavenaghi started things off early on with his first goal for his new club, picking up Martí's cross and turning past his marker to fire an angled shot past Claudio Bravo. Chori Castro shot wide and Bravo had to save a header from Víctor at close range, with Ansotegi failing to convert a couple of headers at the other end. Griezmann fired a good chance over the bar after the restart, but soon afterwards Mallorca went two up when Cavenaghi finished off close to goal after Víctor headed on De Guzmán's corner. Víctor brought the save of the night out of Bravo when the Chilean keeper pushed his volley on to the crossbar, and Castro almost squeezed a shot past him minutes later. Mallorca were in control though, and Real only looked like scoring when Llorente came on later in the second half.
Almería and Deportivo came in to their match on Sunday with both sides in the relegation spots, but it was the visitors who came away with the spoils after a 0-2 victory. The goals came early on, Kalu Uche running in to head Corona's corner past Manu for the first in only the fourth minute. Adrián and Lassad went close for the locals, but Almería went further ahead with the silly goal of the weekend after Rindaroy's attempted clearance was charged down by Crusat. The ball rebounded on to the crossbar, and Uche ran in faster than anyone to head in to the empty net. After Corona almost scored a third with a deflected shot which Manu caught well, Lotina replaced Desmarets with Valerón, and Gardado brought a good save out of Diego Alves soon afterwards. But with half time looming Colotto was sent off for tripping Piatti, and although both sides had chances after that the scoreline remained unchanged. (25.09.10)
Real Madrid's lead at the top of the table was cut short after they could only draw 0-0 at newly promoted Levante. The locals set their stall out from the start, with eight or nine men behind the ball, and Mourinho's side spent most of the game trying to find a way through. Higuaín put an early chance over the top from Marcelo's cross, and Reina did well to keep out a Cristiano Ronaldo header a few minutes later. Higuaín had a strike ruled out for offside and Ronaldo poked a shot wide, and after the restart Xavi Alonso hit the near post from an inswinging corner. Mourinho brought on Pedro León and Benzema, and both went close as well. But time was running out, and shortly after Cerra cleared a last dangerous chance from Higuaín it was all over. Luis García's side had earned themselves a point against one of La Liga's giants (to put matters in to perspective Cristiano Ronaldo earns as much as the entire Levante squad put together!), and they move out of the bottom three pending Sunday's games.
Levante did a big favour as well for their city neighbours Valencia, who are now clear at the top of the table after beating Sporting Gijón 0-2. Both goals came in the first ten minutes, Topal running in to head a Manuel Fernandes corner past Juan Pablo for the first, and Soldado turning in Mata's cross for the second. Mata came close to making it three with a clever chip before the break, but the Asturians could have scored themselves when Barral drove an angled shot against the foot of the far post a few minutes in to the second half. Juan Pablo did well to keep out Pablo Hernández, but César had to tip a long shot from Rivera over the bar, and Diego Castro, Barral and De las Cuevas all had opportunities to get their side back in the game later on. Unai Emery's new side lead the pack at the moment though, and the likes of Villa, Silva and Marchena are already a thing of the past.
Barcelona also moved above Madrid to second place after a 1-3 victory over Athletic Bilbao later in the evening. With Messi still on the sidelines the onus was on David Villa to lead the attack, and he hit the post as the Catalans dominated the opening minutes. With ten minutes to go to half time Bilbao were left with ten men when Amorebieta was sent off for a sliding tackle on Iniesta, but even so Javi Martínez hit the post soon after the restart. A few minutes later though Villa played Iniesta's pass in to the path of Keita for him to open the scoring, and a few minutes later Xavi made it two with a long shot. With four minutes to go Villa was sent off forretaliating against Gurpegui, and three minutes later Athletic got one back when De Marcos played the ball in for Gabilondo to score. Caparrós threw everyone forward, but Pedro broke away on a rapid counter-attack and played the ball in for Busquets to wrap things up. (25.09.10)