Real Madrid maintained the eight point gap behind leaders Barcelona after beating Rayo Vallecano 0-2 on Monday evening. The match had been scheduled for the day before, but an act of vandalism on Rayo's lighting system meant that the kick-off had to be put back by 24 hours. After away defeats at Barcelona, Getafe and Sevilla though, this was a must win fixture for Madrid, and Rubén had to save an early header from Pepe before Benzema got on the end of Di María's cross to open the scoring. The local keeper did well to stop efforts from Modric, Ronaldo and Benzema before the break, but Rayo came close to equalising when Casillas pushed out a shot from Delibasic, and Xabi Alonso blocked Labaka's follow up on the line with his chest. After the restart both teams had chances before Jordi Amat slid in to tackle Ronaldo only to block his cross with his hands, and Ronaldo himself stepped up to make it two from the spot. The Portuguese striker should have added a third when he lobbed a shot against the post with the goal at his mercy, and near the end Özil had a strike ruled out for a borderline offside. But the game was already won, and a red card for Casado in injury time was a mere anecdote.
Later in the evening Sevilla kept up their good start to the season with a 0-2 victory at Deportivo La Coruña, the win taking them up to joint third in the table alongside Málaga. For the first hour or so honours were shared, with Abel Aguilar and Jesús Navas both rattling the woodwork before the break. After the restart Negredo tried to pass to Medel when a shot would have been the better choice, and Botía deflected a cross from Pizzi on to the crossbar. With a quarter of an hour to go though Navas and Cicinho combined down the right wing to set up Negredo for the opener, and eight minutes later Rakitic charged down Aranzubia's attempted clearance to deflect the ball back in to the net. A first defeat for Depor in the Riazor stadium for over a year, and the Andalusians have demonstrated once again that they mean business this season. (24.09.12)
Mallorca moved up to second in the table after a 2-0 victory over Valencia on Sunday lunchtime. The first chance fell to the visitors, Jonathan Viera shooting just wide, but soon afterwards Víctor Casadesus connected with Hemed's pass to fire in a shot which visiting keeper Diego Alves let through his hands. Aouate had to save from Soldado and Valdez headed against the bar before the break, but immediately after the restart Nsue headed just wide, and a few minutes later Víctor headed a long Aouate clearance on for substitute Arizmendi to make it two. Tino Costa had a couple of chances later on to get one back, but Aouate and his defence held out to leave the Ches down in the bottom half of the table.
Málaga are level with the Balearic islanders after a dull 0-0 draw at Athletic Bilbao later in the evening. Both teams had played in European competitions midweek, and they already appeared tired after their efforts. Susaeta went close a couple of times in the first half, and either side of half time Jesús Gámez, Isco and Eliseu all tested keeper Raúl Fernández, who was standing in for the injured Iraizoz. With ten minutes to go Caballero kept out Susaeta again, but even the introduction of Fernando Llorente couldn't change things, and in the end both coaches settled for a point.
Atlético Madrid are up to fourth with a game in hand after beating Valladolid 2-1. Falcao brought a couple of early saves out of Jaime, and Courtois did well to keep out Omar Ramos in response. But with half an hour on the clock Godín ran on to Koke's through ball to chip the visiting keeper, and Falcao could have added to the lead before he made it two from the penalty spot after Alberto Bueno brought down Diego Costa in the area. Ten minutes in to the second half however Bueno got one back with a long shot which went through the hands of Courtois, and the visitors could have saved a point had the Belgian keeper not saved a Bueno free kick later on.
Levante are three points behind Atlético after they came from behind to win 2-1 against Real Sociedad. Zurutuza gave the Basques an early lead with a shot off the post from outside of the area, but with twenty minutes to go Barkero equalised from the penalty spot after El Zhar was brought down by Iñigo Martínez. Levante's new signing Obafemi Martins came on at the break and had a couple of strikes ruled out for offside, and with five minutes to go he ran on to a long clearance from Ballesteros to hold off his marker and score the winning goal.
The match between Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid had to be postponed however after the electrical installations in Vallecas were vandalized shortly before kick off, and the game will now be played tomorrow evening. (23.09.12)
Barcelona were within three minutes of dropping their first points of the season on Saturday evening, although a late strike by Xavi and a Borja Gómez own goal gave them a flattering 2-0 win over Granada in the end. After four wins in a row Tito Vilanova's side came in to the game full of confidence. But the visitors more than held their own early on, with Valdés having to make a couple of saves from Floro Flores, and Mikel Rico firing a shot over the bar. Messi and Fàbregas had shots blocked at the other end, but Valdés was in action again to keep out Siqueira, and Barça's nerves were evidenced when Messi and Villa were caught on camera arguing over a play. After the restart the locals moved up a gear, although an excellent Toño kept out shots from Messi, Pedro, Fàbregas and Xavi amongst others. With a few minutes to go Orellana got free on goal only to be thwarted by Valdés once again, and soon afterwards Xavi finally broke through with a shot from outside of the area which went in off the crossbar. Pedro fired a shot over the top and Messi hit the post as the Catalans looked to kill off the game, and in the second minute of injury time Borja Gómez could only turn Messi's cross in to his own net. The defeat leaves Granada down in the relegation spots, but on this showing they should be further up the table before too long.
Betis are up to third pending Sunday's games after a 1-0 victory over Espanyol. Rubén Castro and Agra both fired shots wide before Paulao got on the end of Beñat's wide free kick to head the ball inside the far post. And the Andalusians could have increased the lead before the break, Cristian Alvarez turning Pozuelo's shot against the post and then saving from Agra, and Beñat firing a shot wide with the goal at his mercy. After the interval the Catalans came back, Wakaso hitting the post and Simao shooting against the crossbar, and Verdú had a strike disallowed for a borderline offside. And even though they were left with ten men when Wakaso picked up a rigorous second yellow card midway through the second half, Casto still had to make good saves from Rui Fonte and Victor Alvarez to prevent the visitors from getting back in the match.
Espanyol have still only picked up one point all season however, and they are joint bottom together with Osasuna, who lost 3-1 at Zaragoza in the first match of the weekend. Postiga opened the scoring for the locals in the fourth minute after Víctor Rodríguez headed the ball in to his path, but with half an hour on the clock Armenteros ran through virtually unchallenged to drill a low shot in off Roberto's far post. Timor and Cejudo could have increased the lead, but with the first half coming to a close the home side went back in front when Timor tried to cut out Víctor's centre only for his header to loop back in to the net past his own keeper. Víctor hit the side netting early in the second half and Lolo and Cejudo responded with headers just wide of the mark. But with twenty minutes to go Raoul Loe tripped substitute Movilla inside the area, and Apoño stepped up to convert the resulting penalty, sealing a win which takes the Maños four points clear of the relegation spots.
Celta also moved clear of the danger zone after they beat Getafe 2-1. The Galicians came out of blocks quickly, Moyà turning a shot from Iago Aspas on to the post and Lopo deflecting an effort from Augusto Fernández wide of the upright. Krohn-Dehli and Bermejo both went close before the break, and twelve minutes after the restart Fernández ran on to Krohn-Dehli's through ball to give the home side the lead. Up to that point the visitors had only troubled Javi Varas with a couple of strikes from new boy Alvaro Vázquez, but the keeper had to be at his best to keep out a header from Diego Castro, and seconds later Abdel Barrada connected with a Castro cross to fire a shot in to the roof of the net. Paco Herrera turned to Park Chu Young, and within a couple of minutes he was to score the winner with a first time volley from another Krohn-Dehli assist. A few minutes later the Korean striker came close to scoring again, but in any case when Getafe defender Alexis was shown a red card for striking out at Hugo Mallo it was all over. (22.09.12)