Málaga are back up to fifth in the table after a 1-3 victory at Racing Santander in the Monday night game. After Caballero kept out an early effort from Adrián, the Andalusians were on top, Rondón missing a couple of opportunities and Toño saving well from Mathijsen. A couple of minutes after the restart good work by Seba Fernández allowed Rondón to get a shot in, and although Toño made the save, Isco was on the spot to knock in the rebound. A few minutes later Pellegrini's side went two up, Alvaro turning the ball past his own keeper after Mathijsen headed on a long cross. Arana got one back after Stuani passed out to him, but Van Nistelrooy had a strike ruled out for a non-existent offside before crossing in for Seba to bang in the third, and Cazorla could have added a fourth when he hit the post in the last minute. The defeat leaves Racing at the bottom of the table, the Cantabrians dropping below Real Sociedad on goal difference. (21.11.11)
Athletic Bilbao are up to the Europa League spots after a 1-2 victory at fifth placed Sevilla on Sunday evening. Iraola put the Basque side ahead in the fifth minute, drilling a shot in off the near post after Spahic's headed clearance from a free kick fell to him. A few minutes later though Jesús Navas equalised after picking up a headed pass from Kanouté, and there were chances for both sides after that, Javi Varas having to save from an Iñigo Pérez free kick and Ander heading just wide, and Negredo going close a couple of times for the locals. The visitors got the edge after the restart though, Llorente failing to find the target before De Marcos combined with Muniain to force his way past Varas and restore the lead. An eighth league game without defeat for Bielsa's side, and they are now only a point behind their opponents in the table.
Atlético Madrid are just a point outside of the European places after they beat fourth placed Levante 3-2 later in the evening. The two teams didn't really warm up until after the break, Courtois saving well from Valdo and Diego having a shot cleared off the line by Javi Venta early in the second half. It was only when the redeemed Reyes came on though that the goals started to flow, the ex Arsenal forward setting up Pizzi for his first goal for the club. Xavi Torres equalised three minutes later after Barkero set him up, but Adrián headed Atleti back in front from Turan's cross, and Diego made it three after Venta could only deflect Adrián's pass to him. Levante didn't give up though, and Rubén Suárez gave the local fans a fright when he latched on to Juanfran's cross to reduce the gap to ine goal in injury time.
Further down the table, Sporting Gijón distanced themselves from the relegation zone after beating Getafe 2-1. The Asturians started the day a point behind their opponents in the table, and things looked grim for them when Miku opened the scoring for the visitors ten minutes before half time. However with the first half coming to a close Trejo made it all square after the defence could only part clear a Nacho Cases corner, and soon after the restart Moyà had to be at his best to keep out Cases from point blank range. A couple of minutes later Getafe were left with ten men when Abdel was shown a second yellow card for what the referee interpreted rather harshly as a dive in the area, but Miku and Sarabia could both have scored before Nacho Novo headed a late winner after Moyà could only push out a shot from André Castro.
Getafe ended the day in fifteenth place, although they are only a point above bottom club Real Sociedad, who drew 0-0 against Espanyol in the Sunday lunchtime match. Both teams had only scored nine goals all season, but whereas the visitors had managed to amass seventeen points in the that time, Montanier's side had only managed to clock up eight. Despite losing Sergio García to an early injury, Espanyol created the better chances in the opening minutes, Alvaro Vázquez steering a shot wide and Weiss coming up against Bravo. Real recovered later in the first half, Cristian Alvarez having to save from Llorente and Agirettxe going close. But after the interval the Catalans could have won it, in particular when a long shot from young substitute Cristián Gómez came back off the foot of the post later on.
A 0-0 draw as well between Osasuna and Rayo Vallecano, a result which left both safely in mid-table. The locals were looking to shore up their defence after letting in seven in the Bernabeu in their last match, but Delibasic and Piti both failed to convert chances as the visitors had the better of the first half. Nekounam tried his luck with a couple of long shots after the break and Ibrahima was thwarted by Cobeño, and at the other end Lass caused some problems for Andrés, in particular with a shot which brushed the top of the crossbar. A point each though, which at the end of the season may be something they both will be grateful for.
The last match of the evening between Granada and Mallorca was suspended though a quarter of an hour or so in to the second half after a linesman was hit and cut on the face by an object thrown from the crowd. Víctor Casadesús had given the Balearic Islanders the lead midway through the first half after Alfaro put him through, but Siqueira levelled the scores with an angled shot in off the far post ten minutes after the restart, and soon afterwards Carlos Martins ran through from the halfway line to turn the scoreline around, a goal he dedicated to his young son who needs a bone marrow transplant. A couple of minutes later though referee Clos Gómez called it off, and it remains to be seen what decision will be taken as to whether the game should be resumed at a later date or not. (20.11.11)
Real Madrid stay three points clear at the top of the table after a thrilling 2-3 victory against third placed Valencia. Benzema gave Mourinho's side the lead from Xabi Alonso's quick free kick early on, and Ronaldo went close a couple of times before Sergio Ramos headed the second from Özil's corner with twenty minutes to go. Soldado drilled one back though after Casillas could only block a shot from Pablo Hernández, and although Ronaldo took advantage of a mistake by keeper Diego Alves following a long clearance by Pepe to restore the two goal cushion, an acrobatic second goal by Soldado set up a nail biting finish. Emery threw everything forward, Soldado having a third goal ruled out for a narrow offside, substitute Aduríz forcing in to a good save and then heading against the bar, and Higuaín lucky not to give away a penalty when the ball hit him on the shoulder as he was lying on the ground. An eleventh win in a row though for Madrid, and it is results like this one that make the difference between winning or losing the league title.
Earlier in the evening Barcelona had temporarily closed the gap on their arch-rivals after a comfortable 4-0 win over Zaragoza. Piqué headed the first from Xavi's wide free kick with just under twenty minutes gone, and Messi, Alexis and Maxwell all brought good saves out of Roberto before Messi picked up a pass from Fàbregas to add a second shortly before half time. Zaragoza's only real attempt at goal came when half time substitute Lafita shot wide soon after the restart, and soon afterwards Puyol also got in on the act, beating the keeper at the second attempt whilst lying on the ground after Keita headed back a long Fàbregas cross. Iniesta rolled a shot just wide of the post before Villa made it four, diving forward to head in on the far post after a defender could only deflect Cuenca's centre across goal. And Cuenca himself came close to a fifth when he shot over the bar late on. An impressive 30-0 aggregate scoreline in league matches in the Nou Camp this season, and the last time that Valdés let one in at home in the competition was against Almería in April. Madrid have been warned!
Villarreal kicked off the weekend beating Betis 1-0, a result which takes Juan Carlos Garrido's side above their opponents in the table. Casto had to be on his toes to keep out Gonzalo early on before Borja Valero latched on to Marco Rubén's pass to lob the keeper in the twentieth minute. However the rest of the first half the visitors were on top, Diego López having to save from Rubén Castro and Iriney, and Jorge Molina going close a couple of times. Villarreal wrested back control after the break, Casto stopping efforts from Rubén, Valero and Bruno. But Betis could have saved a point later on, Rubén Castro shooting just wide and Jefferson Montero almost catching Diego out with a shot from just over the half-way line near the end. A confidence boosting win for the locals though prior to their Champions League commitments, but another defeat for the Andalusians, who have now gone 472 minutes without scoring a single goal. (19.11.11)