Betis came in to Monday night's game at Getafe already a point clear at the top of the table and consequently sure of top spot, but in the end they were unable to extend their lead as Luis García's side ran out 1-0 winners. The locals started the day down in the relegation spots, still looking for their first of the season, and Pedro León went close before Diego Costa opened the scoring on the half hour mark after Güiza headed over Valera's cross. Goitia had to save from Abdel and Costa either side of half time to prevent the scoreline from increasing. But after the restart Betis came forward, and Moyà had to be at his best to keep out Pereira, Santa Cruz and Beñat. . (26.09.11)
Málaga missed out on a chance to move to the top of the table after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Zaragoza in the last match of Sunday evening. With Valencia losing and Betis playing on Monday, the Andalusians needed three points to go above both of them. And they started well, local keeper Roberto having to be at his best to keep out Van Nistelrooy early on. Barrera tested Caballero and Da Silva and Postiga both failed to hit the target for the Maños, but Baptista fired a long free kick just wide, and soon after the restart the Brazilian forward came up against Roberto once again. Zaragoza felt hard done by when the referee ruled out a strike by Postiga for a dubious offside, but the visitors almost came away with the win they wanted when Roberto made the save of the night after Seba Fernández headed down Isco's cross late on.
As things stand though, only one point separates second from seventh position, with Levante moving up to third (their highest ever ranking in the league), after beating Espanyol 3-1. Rubén Suárez rammed home an early penalty for the visitors after Rui Fonte fouled Juanlu in the area. And although Thievy, Sergio García and Fonte all failed to convert chances after that, Suárez added a second penalty on the hour mark after Jordi Amat was sent off for pulling down the forward as he advanced on goal. A few minutes later Espanyol got one back, Héctor Moreno turning the ball in on the far post after Pandiani half hit a shot across goal. But Barkero restored the two goal cushion with an impressive shot from outside of the area, and with ten minutes to go Pandiani also got himself sent off following an off-the-ball incident with Nano.
Mallorca came back from one down to beat Real Sociedad 2-1 in a match which kicked off at mid-day, the result taking Michael Laudrup's side to within a point of their opponents in the table. The Basque side started strongly, Carlos Vela heading against the woodwork before Agirretxe latched on to a Carlos Martínez through ball to scoop a shot over the head of Aouate. Víctor levelled the scores though with a shot on the turn after picking Nsue's centre with his back to goal, and Chori Castro came close to a second before the break. After the restart Aouate made a great save from a Vela free kick, and Xabi Prieto fired the rebound against the bar. But soon afterwards Castro put the locals ahead after Chico laid the ball back following a corner, and later in the game Agirretxe hit the bar for a third time for the visitors. This was just not their day!
Granada and Osasuna stayed clear of the danger zone after a 1-1 draw later in the evening. Kike Sola brought a good save out of Roberto before the visitors opened the scoring, Diakhaté failing to cut out Lamah's cross and the keeper only managing to push the ball to Raúl García, who scored his first for the club since returning in the summer. Puñal, García and Lamah tried to wrap things up either side of half time, but Dani Benítez volleyed a shot just wide, and midway through the second half Fran Rico equalised after Jara lobbed the ball across. The Navarrans could have won it in the end though, the referee ruling out an injury time goal from Ibrahima for a non-existent offside.
Sporting Gijón remain in bottom spot after they could only draw 0-0 with Racing Santander, the point taking Héctor Cúper's side out of the bottom three above Athletic. The Asturians themselves had yet to pick up a point all season, but Toño had to be awake to save from André Castro on the line following a set-piece free kick, and Ayoze fired a shot on to the top of the crossbar after De las Cuevas set him up later in the first half. After the restart De las Cuevas also hit the post, and sangoy fired a shot in to the side netting. But in the end Sporting had to defend as the visitors came forward, Juan Pablo doing well to keep out Arana and Munitis in the dying minutes. (25.09.11)
The Champions League sides all kicked off on Saturday night, with big wins for Real Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid clocked a 6-2 victory over neighbours Rayo Vallecano, but not before Michu put the visitors ahead within 15 seconds of the start after Casillas could only parry a shot from Tamudo. A few minutes later Tamudo could have scored a second, but before half time goals from Ronaldo and Higuaín turned the scoreline around, the first from Kaká's assist and the second after Ramos headed over an Alonso free kick. Ronaldo scored another from the penalty spot soon after the restart after Movilla fouled Kaká, but Michu scored again following a Piti corner, and a couple of minutes later Di María got himself sent off for a second bookable offence. After dropping points in the last two games the fans started to get nervous, but Varane restored the two goal cushion with an acrobatic goal, and Benzema made it five with a low shot after collecting a cross from Özil. That finished Rayo, and Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with a second penalty late on, the referee letting keeper Dani off a red card when he brought down the forward in the area. He had already suffered enough!
Later in the evening Barcelona beat Atlético Madrid 5-0 to stay a point above their rivals in the table. This fixture always produces goals, and Atlético were expected to put up a good fight after their recent run of form. However Tiago's early shot against the bar was just about all they could muster, and with nine minutes on the clock Villa chested on Xavi's long pass and rounded Miranda to open the scoring. Pedro went close before Miranda could only deflected the ball past Courtois after the keeper saved a shot from Messi, and later in the first half Messi made it three after picking up Pedro's return pass from his throw-in to run on and shoot inside the near post. After the break the one-way traffic continued, Courtois saving well from Messi and Villa before Messi produced another magic run to score his second of the night. And although Adrián finally tested Valdés as Atlético woke up late on, Messi drove the final nail in the coffin after running on to Villa's return pass to drill a shot under the legs of the keeper.
Barça are up to second, level on points with Sevilla, who beat Valencia 1-0 in the first match of the weekend. The Andalusians dominated the first half, Kanouté having an early strike ruled out for a dubious offside after Guaita had saved a spectacular overhead kick from Negredo. A few minutes later though Kanouté picked up a Jesús Navas cross to fire a shot past the keeper, and Kanouté, Cáceres and Perotti could all have added to the lead before the interval. Emery's half time team talk had it's effect though, Tino Costa and Jonas testing Javi Varas soon after the restart. Sevilla were left with ten men when Trochowski picked up a second booking, and a few minutes later the visitors were awarded a penalty when Escudé brought down Aduríz, the defender also being shown a red card for the foul. Banega fired his spot kick against the post though, and soon afterwards Valencia were also a man down after Aduríz was sent off for stamping on the foot of Spahic, who fell theatrically to the ground. After that the Andalusians held on to hand the Ches their first defeat of the season.
Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal both came in to their Saturday evening game needing a win, but in the end they had to make do with a point apiece as the match ended 1-1. The two sides traded chances early on, Llorente heading wide and Valero and Senna failing to find the target with long shots. But the first effort on target didn't come until just before the break, Gabilondo getting ahead of Zapata to turn Susaeta's cross in to the net. Eight minutes after the restart though the visitors equalised, Amorebieta getting a foot to Rossi's cross but only playing the ball in to the path of Nilmar, who drove his shot in to the empty net. And after that it was up to Diego López to ensure a point for his side, the keeper making important saves from Javi Martínez, Susaeta and Toquero. Athletic's challenge ended when Ekiza was sent off for a second bookable offence, and once again Bielsa's side had failed to pick up the three points. (24.09.11)