Málaga will stay in sixth spot for another week after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Osasuna on Sunday afternoon. Pellegrini's side were on top right from the start, Isco, Toulalan, Duda and Monreal all failing to convert chances. However Ibrahima put the visitors ahead in their first attack with just over half an hour gone, poking the ball in on the near post after Nino's shot was blocked following a corner. Ibrahima came close to scoring a second shortly before the interval, but the locals regained control in the second half, with Cazorla, Rondón and the excellent Isco all shooting just wide. And with twenty minutes to go Isco found Sergio Sánchez for him to lay the ball across to set up Juanmi for the equaliser. The draw keeps the Andalusians in the European spots, two points ahead of their opponents in the table.
Espanyol are back up to eighth after they beat Atlético Madrid 4-2 in the last match of the evening. The game was all but over in the first twenty minutes as the Catalans scored three times, Verdú catching Courtois half asleep with a long shot to open the scoring and then adding a second after running through a passive defence, and Romaric making it three with an angled shot after picking up a return pass from Sergio García. Falcao got one back before the break, getting in front of Cristian Alvarez to force a header in to the net, but ten minutes after the restart Sergio García scored his side's fourth after battling past three or four defenders to beat Courtois again. The Belgian keeper made up for his mistakes to a certain extent with a good save from Thievy, and Arda Turan closed the gap a bit more with a second goal, but it was too late to prevent another disappointing result. With only one point from their last seven games away from home, coach Gregorio Manzano is firmly in the firing line.
Athletic Bilbao could only draw 1-1 against struggling Racing Santander, a result which left the Basque side still five points away from the European spots. The better chances in the first half fell to the locals, Arana having to clear off the line after Toño's clearance from a corner hit Colsa on the back, and Ander hitting the post with a shot from the edge of the area. Susaeta and Toquero tried their luck after the restart, but with Llorente still out injured, the long balls in to the box were going to waste until Aurtenetxe stole in on the back post to head in Toquero's centre. It seemed to be enough to win until the third minute of injury time, when Alvaro got on the end of Diop's long free kick to head the equaliser. Another draw for the Cantabrians to keep them off the bottom of the table, and since Héctor Cúper left two games ago they have picked up four points.
Mallorca are up to eleventh after a 0-1 victory over a Zaragoza side who, with Racing's draw, are now two points adrift at the foot of the table. Described by one commentator as the worst performance by a first division side in years, Javier Aguirre's team hardly troubled Aouate throughout the ninety minutes. Most of the play in the first forty five minutes was in the local half, Alvaro rattling the crossbar before Víctor Casadesús headed in a cross from Cáceres shortly before the interval. Lafita did finally test the visiting keeper with a long shot, but only some good goalkeeping by Roberto prevented Nsue and Víctor from increasing the lead later on. The Maños have only picked up one point now from their last eight games, and there were serious protests from the fans at the final whistle.
Racing and Zaragoza occupy the bottom two spots, but only one point separates seven sides fighting to avoid the last relegation place, currently occupied by Sporting Gijón despite a 1-3 win at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday lunchtime. Barral got between Cobeño and Labaka to head the ball on and round Arribas to score the first in only the ninth minute. Piti went close a couple of times at the other end, but Cobeño had to pull off saves from Nacho Novo and Barral before Novo ran on to a De las Cuevas through ball to score the second shortly before half time. Midway through the second half Novo took advantage of more slack defending by Labaka to make it three and Michu netted a late consolation for the home team after winning the ball back off a defender to beat Juan Pablo in the last minute. A fourth defeat in a row for Rayo, and they are now only a point above their opponents in the table having played a game more.
Sporting's victory meant that Getafe were down in the bottom three for a few hours before a 1-0 win against Granada took them back out and up to eleventh. It was, as they say, a game of two halves, with the locals dominating the first and the visitors coming back in the second. Sarabia and Miku both failed to hit the target early on and Michel brought a good save out of Roberto before the break, but after the restart Moyà had to be at his best to keep out Moisés Hurtado and then Ighalo on a couple of occasions. With ten minutes to go though Roberto could only push long cross back out to Casquero, who fired in a shot which took deflections off two defenders before finally entering the net. A third win in a row in the Alfonso Pérez stadium, and if anything is to save Getafe this season it will be their form at home.
Villarreal are dropping perilously close to the relegation spots as well, and they ended the weekend just above Sporting on goal difference after they were held to a 1-1 draw in the Madrigal stadium by Real Sociedad. After their humiliation in the Champions League, Garrido's side needed a good result, and Marcos Senna, Marco Rubén and Gonzalo all went close early on. Borja brought a great save out of Claudio Bravo later in the first half, but the visitors were starting to get back in the game, and early in the second half Aranburu picked up Vela's pass on the by-line and cut back to beat Diego López with an angled shot. Real were left with ten men though soon afterwards when Elustondo picked up a second booking, and the locals took advantage to level the scores, Rubén turning the ball in on the far post after Camuñas and Joselu combined to set him up. (11.12.11)
Barcelona are sitting on top of the table tonight after coming from behind to beat Real Madrid 1-3 on a rainy night in the Bernabeu stadium. For once Mourinho's side were favourites for the "clásico", and with only 23 seconds on the clock they seemed to be on their way to a victory when Benzema beat Valdés after the keeper had given the ball away to Ronaldo, his pass falling to Özil whose shot was deflected by Busquets in to the path of the French striker. But Casillas had to be at his best to keep out Messi five minutes later, and on the half hour mark Messi set up Alexis for him to level the scores with an angled shot past the keeper. After the restart an out-of-sorts Ronaldo failed to find the target with a couple of free kicks just outside of the area, and soon afterwards a speculative shot by Xavi hit Marcelo and bounced agonizingly past Casillas to give the Catalans the lead. Ronaldo headed the easiest of chances wide a few minutes later, and just a minute after that Fàbregas ran in to head a Dani Alves cross past the keeper to wrap things up. Another win for Guardiola's side in the Bernabeu to keep the battle for the title alive, although Madrid still have a chance to end the year in first place as they have a game in hand as Barça fly out to Japan for the Club World Cup. Not the result they expected though, and their run of fifteen wins in a row comes to a sad end.
Earlier in the evening third placed Valencia were beaten 2-1 by Betis, Rubén Castro scoring twice in injury time to give the Andalusians their first win in eleven games. If anything the Ches had the better of the first half, with Soldado going close a couple of times. Diego Alves had to be at his best though after the restart to turn a Beñat free kick round the post, and Castro fired a good chance over the top before Dorado deflected Mathieu's cross in to his own net. But when all seemed lost Castro levelled the scores after Juanma's cross fell kindly to him, and with the game coming to an end the striker got on the end of another Juanma pass to score the winner. Pepe Mel will be eternally grateful to him.
Fourth placed Levante close to within a point of their city neighbours after they beat the team below them Sevilla 1-0 in the first match of the evening. The Andalusians came in to the game unbeaten away in the league this season, hoping to snatch the last Champions League spot off their rivals. And they started well, Navas, Negredo and Trochowski all going close before the break, and Munúa having to be at his best to keep out Manu and Trochowski soon after the restart. Soon afterwards though Nano got what was to prove the only goal of the game after Javi Varas had blocked a Ballesteros header from a corner, the defender nipping in to score as the keeper and Negredo were hesitating between themselves. Juanlu almost added another with a wide shot which deflected off Spahic on to the post, but the visitors came close to saving a point after that, Munúa having to save again from Kanouté and Negredo and Spahic both missing the target. Another three points for Juan Ignacio Martínez's side though, and they continue to surprise us every week. (10.12.11)