A 2-2 draw in the Monday night game between Getafe and Athletic Bilbao, Urko Vera's last minute equaliser saving a point but not quite enough to enable the Basque side to hold on to fifth spot. Both teams had chances in the first half, with Gorka and his defence keeping out Arizmendi and Albín early on and Muniain firing a shot over the top at the other end. All the goals though came in the second half, the locals taking the lead against the run of play after Arizmendi dragged Albín's cross towards goal, Manu del Moral running in to finish off before a defender could clear. Ten minutes later Manu scored at the other end as well when he headed a long David López free kick back past his own keeper, but with six minutes to go he made up for it with his second of the night (at the right end that is), picking up the ball in midfield and running on to curl a shot wide of Gorka. That appeared to have given Michel's side a first win in six matches, but with the game in injury time Vera popped up to head in a David López corner for his first goal for the A team since joining the reserves from Lemona in the winter. (14.03.11)
Barcelona's lead over Real Madrid at the top of the table has been reduced to five points after Guardiola's side were held to a 1-1 draw by Sevilla on Sunday evening. It was a thrilling match right from the start, with Messi getting the ball in the net from an early free kick only to see it ruled out for what the referee considered to be a foul by Busquets. A few minutes later Pedro limped off injured, but soon after Zokora had a penalty claim turned down, Pedro's replacement Bojan opened the scoring after Iniesta and Dani Alves combined to set him up. Messi headed against the bar and then brought a good save out of Javi Varas, and Villa put another chance over the top. But four minutes after the restart Navas headed the equaliser from Negredo's cross, and Negredo could have given the Andalusians the lead when he got past an indecisive defence only to shoot over the top. Cáceres did well to clear from Messi and Bojan thought he should have had a penalty, but Valdés was called upon to keep out Navas when free on goal. And in the dying minutes Kanouté went close a couple of times for the locals, and Iniesta fired a shot against the bar and then had another effort cleared off the line by Medel in reply. For only the fourth time this season Barcelona had dropped points, but in the end they won't be too unhappy to come away with a draw.
Earlier in the evening fourth placed Villarreal could only draw 1-1 against a Sporting Gijón side who saved a point with a controversial last minute penalty when down to nine men. Thursday's gruelling Europa League match took its toll at first, the Asturians testing Diego López two or three times in the opening minutes. But with half an hour on the clock Cuéllar misjudged a long corner, the ball falling to Rossi who steered a shot in to the net from the far post. Midway through the second half Cuéllar injured himself coming out of his area to clear, and in the resulting confusion José Angel was shown a second yellow card for something he said to the referee. The ten men didn't give up though, Barral hitting a post before Sastre was also shown a red card for pulling up Rossi as he advanced on goal. With the game in injury time Sporting threw caution to the wind, and in a last ditch attack Barral fell theatrically under a challenge from Gonzalo. To the surprise of the home team though the referee pointed to the spot, and Diego Castro stepped up to hit a soft spot kick past the keeper.
Villarreal are still eight points ahead of Espanyol however, the Catalans moving back up to fifth after a 2-0 victory over Deportivo. Injuries and suspensions forced both coaches to make several changes to their line-ups, and chances were few and far between in a dull first half. Two minutes before the interval though the visitors were left with ten men when Pablo Alvarez picked up a second booking, and after the restart the locals pressed home their advantage, Aranzubia having to make first class saves from Verdú and Iván Alonso before Alonso got on the end of David García's cross to head home the opener. Verdú tested the keeper again a few minutes later, and with ten minutes to go he finally got his name on the scoresheet after cutting past Medel before firing an angled shot in to the far top corner of the net. A much needed win for Pochettino's side after six defeats in their last seven matches, and once again Lotina had lost against the team he used to coach.
A three way tie at the bottom of the table after Málaga beat Real Sociedad 0-2 to draw level on points with Almería and Hércules. Both keepers had work to do before Duda opened the scoring with a free kick from the left touchline which bounced past everyone in to the net. The locals responded with a header over the bar from Zurutuza, and Tamudo and Rivas brought good saves out of Willy Caballero either side of half time. But twelve minutes in to the second half Rondón got above his marker to head the second from Eliseu's cross, and after that Caballero was hardly troubled. A much needed victory to take some of the pressure off Pellegrini, and now it is Lasarte who needs a good result after only picking up one point in the last four games.
Osasuna moved six points clear of the drop zone after a 3-1 win over Racing Santander, who themselves are now two points behind their opponents in the table. With the first choice strikers injured, Kike Sola was given a rare start up front. And in the end he was the star of the match, scoring the first after a Camuñas cross was played back to him, and having a hand in the other two goals. The second goal came from the penalty spot, Nekounam converting the kick after Christian pushed over Sola in the area. And five minutes after the restart Sola and Camuñas combined to set up Soriano for the third. Rosenberg pulled one back soon afterwards, and Soriano was sent off for a second bookable offence a few minutes later, but the locals had done enough for a first win against their rivals in Pamplona in six years.
Osasuna are now level with Levante, who drew 1-1 against Mallorca to keep up their epic struggle to stay in the top flight. The visitors had the better chances early on, Webó almost catching out Munúa with a long lob which hit the post, and Aki forcing the keeper in to a good save soon afterwards. With eight minutes to go to the break though Aouate only cleared a long corner as far as Juanlu, who hooked a first time volley back past the keeper from outside of the area. Munúa did well to keep out Nsue and Xisco headed wide from close to goal late in the first half, but with an hour on the clock Mallorca equalised, Ramis's long free kick taking a deflection off Ballesteros to wrong foot the keeper. Iborra almost won it for the locals when he headed a corner against the bar late on, but in the end both sides had to settle for a point. (13.03.11)
This week it was Real Madrid's turn to go first before Barcelona, and they closed the gap to four points pending Barça's tricky game at Sevilla tomorrow with a 2-0 victory over Hércules. With a Champions League tie coming up Mourinho rested two or three of his key players, but even so they took the lead midway through the first half when Özil and Arbeloa combined to set up Benzema. A few minutes later Calatayud did well to tip over a header from Adebayor, but Casillas was called upon after that to save from Thomert and Kiko. After the restart though Madrid came out to kill the match, Adebayor sweeping Di María's long ball against the bar and Benzema bringing a good stop out of Calatayud. And ten minutes in to the second half Benzema picked up a long ball on the left wing to cut in past two defenders and beat the keeper from a wide angle. Özil, Adebayor and Khedira all had chances after that, but the game was already won against a team who have not been able to score away from home in over 1,000 minutes of football.
Later in the evening Valencia suffered the after-shock of Wednesday night's elimination from the Champions League, Unai Emery's side falling to a 4-0 defeat at Zaragoza. Within four minutes they were behind when Jarosik ran through to head a long Paredes free kick down past Guaita, and a few minutes later Bertolo came close to a second after Diogo headed on another Paredes free kick. Six minutes before the break though Ander Herrera picked up Uche's lifted pass to slot a shot through the legs of the keeper, and twenty minutes in to the second half Gabi made it three from the penalty spot after Stankevicius fouled Bertolo, the Lithuanian defender getting himself sent off after picking up a second booking for the offence. Valencia's only shot anywhere near the target came when Tino Costa's long effort was easily collected by Doblas, and with a quarter of an hour to go Gabi completed the scoring with a second penalty after Albelda brought down Braulio.
The weekend kicked off with a 2-2 draw between Almería and Atlético Madrid, a result which left the visitors still in seventh place and the home side level with Hércules in next to bottom spot. José Luis Oltra's team dominated the early play, De Gea having to make important saves from Crusat and Ulloa amongst others. But with seven minutes to go to half time Tiago found Agüero with a high pass for the striker to dummy past Diego Alves and score from a wide angle. Three minutes after the restart Crusat equalised with a first time volley after Perea headed away Mbami's cross, but Reyes and Godín came close before Agüero restored the lead with a low shot from the edge of the area. A quarter of an hour from the end though Goitom levelled the scoreline again with a header from a José Ortíz cross, setting up an exciting finish in which Ortíz, Agüero and Reyes could all have scored. (12.03.11)