Barcelona beat Mallorca 2-4 on Sunday night to make it ten wins and a draw in their first eleven games, equalling the best ever record which so far only Real Madrid had achieved in the past. There was a glimmer of hope for the locals early on when Víctor Valdés could only turn a Hemed header for a corner, but with just under half an hour on the clock Xavi opened the scoring with a free kick which he curled in to the top corner of the net. And with the first half coming to a close the game appeared to be out of Mallorca's reach after the visitors scored twice in a minute, Aouate letting a speculative shot from Messi through his hands, and Tello cutting in from the left wing to steer a low shot inside the far post. The Islanders came back though with two goals of their own in the first quarter of an hour after the restart, an unmarked Pereira picking up Víctor's lofted pass to fire a shot past Valdés, and Víctor himself getting the second from the penalty spot after Busquets had handled in the area. However with twenty minutes to go Alexis chested back a Dani Alves cross in to the path of Messi, who hammered the ball past Aouate to wrap things up. It was his 76th goal of the calendar year, taking him past Pelé's best ever record.
Second placed Atlético Madrid got back to winning ways after their two recent defeats, a 2-0 victory over neighbours Getafe keeping them within three points of the leaders. Courtois was called upon early on to keep out a long Pedro León free kick, and Raúl García headed wide at the other end before Adrián got the opener, beating Moyà at the second attempt after the keeper had saved his previous header from Gabi's cross. Alvaro Vázquez fired a volley over the top a few minutes later, but with three minutes to go to the interval Arda Turan made it two after charging down a Juan Rodríguez clearance, the referee turning down appeals from the visitors that he had controlled the ball with his hands. Getafe improved in the second half as Simeone's side ran out of steam, but they were unable to find the goal they needed, Lafita missing a good chance and Courtois saving again from another dangerous León free kick. For the first time in six months Falcao failed to score in the Calderón stadium, but with eight home wins out of eight this season, Atlético's record there is the best in over twenty years.
Real Madrid consolidated third spot with a 1-2 win at Levante, even though it took a late goal from young substitute Morata to give them the three points. Heavy rain throughout the day in Valencia made the pitch virtually unplayable, but referee Muñiz Fernández decided to let the match go ahead despite Madrid's protests. Cristiano Ronaldo was an early victim of the conditions, David Navarro splitting his eyebrow with a flying elbow as both jumped for a high ball in wet conditions, and although he stayed on long enough to open the scoring after Navarro could only head a Xabi Alonso free kick to him, the Portuguese striker had to be replaced at the break. After the restart Casillas saved well from Juanlu, and Pepe and Ramos both hit the bar for the visitors from consecutive corners. A couple of minutes later though Levante equalised, Martins lifting a long ball over the defence for Angel to battle through and beat Casillas, and a few minutes later Munúa saved a Xabi Alonso penalty after Navarro brought down Callejón on the edge of the area. That seemed to be it until six minutes from the end, when Morata got on the end of a wide Alonso free kick to head home the winner.
Levante hold on to sixth spot though after Valladolid and Valencia cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw on Sunday lunchtime, a result which left both tied on 15 points, still two below Juan Ignacio Martínez's side. The Ches had only picked up one point away from home all season, but Dani Parejo hit the bar with a free kick before Cissokho got on the end of another free kick from Guardado to head the opener in the fourteenth minute. Bueno hit the post at the other end before the break, but after the restart half-time substitute Soldado saw a volley deflected for a corner by Peña, and then had a strike ruled out for offside. However twenty minutes in to the second half Omar Ramos fell under a challenge from Cissokho, and the referee awarded a penalty to the locals and showed a red card to the full back. Víctor Pérez made no mistake from the resulting spot kick, and that was how it ended.
Sevilla also missed out on a chance to return to the top six after they lost 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao. The match got off to a lively start, Navas going close, Aduríz heading over and Rakitic bringing a good save out of Iraizoz as play swung from end to end in the opening minutes. Midway through the first half though De Marcos got on the end of Aurtenetxe's long cross to sweep a shot inside the post, and Susaeta headed over before running on to Aduríz's headed pass to fire in a shot which Palop got a hand to, but couldn't stop from spinning over his head in to the net. Michel made two changes at the break, and Sevilla started to get back in it, Iraizoz having to keep out Babá and Negredo, and Reyes shooting wide. With a quarter of an hour to go Athletic were left with ten men when Ander Herrera was sent off for a second bookable offence, and five minutes later Negredo got one back from the penalty spot after a high ball hit Iraola on the arm inside the area. However the locals held on after that for a much needed win which takes them four points clear of the drop zone. (11.11.12)
Málaga missed out on a chance to move back above Betis to fourth spot after they were beaten 1-2 by Real Sociedad in the last game on Saturday evening. After Granada's win on Friday, the Basque side started the day in the relegation zone, but with less than a minute on the clock they took the lead after Chori Castro won the ball in midfield, Ifrán crossing in for Carlos Vela to beat Willy Caballero. With ten minutes to go to the break however Eliseu's powerful shot was deflected over the bar, and from the resulting Joaquín corner Saviola battled through to equalise. Both keepers were tested after that, but with an hour on the clock Ifrán's attempted pass was cut out by Onyewu only as far as Xabi Prieto, who coolly found himself space to beat Caballero for a second time. Shortly afterwards Zubikarai did well to keep out Isco, and Sergio Sánchez fired another chance over the bar, but Real could have increased their lead near the end when a long shot from José Angel hit the bar. A set-back for the locals after their Champions League successes, but a great result for Montanier, who really needed this win to take off some of the pressure.
Earlier in the day there were two dramatic turnarounds, both to the detriment of sides from Galicia. The weekend programme opened up with a thrilling match in Vallecas, Rayo Vallecano coming back from two goals down to beat Celta 3-2. The visitors got off to a flying start, Cobeño having to keep out Iago Aspas before the striker picked up a through ball from Alex López to open the scoring in the twelfth minute. And although Javi Varas had to save from Casado and José Carlos at the other end, Aspas got through again after Krohn-Dehli put him through to shoot under the legs of the keeper. With five minutes to go to the break however, Celta midfielder Cabral was sent off for a rigorous second booking, and with an hour on the clock Leo Baptistao headed one back from Casado's cross. After that the Galicians sat back to defend, but Delibasic and Piti rattled the woodwork before Tito headed the equaliser from a Chori Domínguez cross, and with eight minutes to go Piti got the winner from the penalty spot after Túñez pulled down Delibasic in the area.
A couple of hours later Deportivo also went two up at Zaragoza, only to have a man sent off before losing 5-3 in the end. Bruno Gama opened the scoring for the visitors after Pizzi put him through, and Riki intercepted Zuculini's attempted pass to Roberto to round the keeper and score the second. Manolo Jiménez took off the offending player almost immediately and replaced him by Aranda, and three minutes later Apoño got one back from the penalty spot after Tiago Pinto handled inside the area. The turning point though came three minutes in to the second half when Pizzi burst in to the penalty box and fell between two defenders, referee Fernando Teixeira Vitienes giving the forward a second yellow card for what he considered to be a dive. A few minutes later Paco Montañés levelled the scores with a volley from Movilla's cross, and soon afterwards Alvaro headed the locals in to the lead from a Víctor Rodríguez free kick. Postiga headed two more past Aranzubia from Víctor and Abraham assists, and Bodipo completed the scoring with an injury time header after Bruno Gama crossed in from the right wing.
Depor drop in to the bottom three, still a point above Espanyol, who lost 0-3 to the only team below them, Osasuna. After picking up eight points from their last four games, the Catalans were full of confidence. However Cristian Alvarez had to save from Sisi and Kike Sola as the visitors got the better of the early minutes, and midway through the first half Cejudo finally beat the keeper after Sisi's first shot was blocked. Before the break Víctor Sánchez, Stuani and Verdú all failed to hit the target, and after the restart Longo and Verdú both hit the woodwork. But minutes later Cejudo won the ball off Verdú and passed through for Kike Sola to round Colotto and Alvarez and score in to an empty net. Worse was to come for the locals when Manu Omwu ran on to an Armenteros through ball to make it three, and there were whistles again from the disappointed home corwd when the match ended. A much needed second win of the season though for the Pamplona based side, who move to within a point of their hosts in the table. (10.11.12)
Granada move out of the relegation zone, for a day or two at least, after beating neighbours Betis 1-2 on Friday evening. After three defeats in a row Anquela's side needed to pick up points quickly, and with seven minutes gone they took the lead when Adrían could only push out Dani Benítez's cross as far as Torje, who drilled a shot back in to the net. Either side of half time Toño had to be at his best to save from Salva Sevilla, Perquis and Jorge Molina, and Rubén Castro equalised on the hour mark with a bouncing shot wide of the keeper from Alex Martínez's cross. But Dani Benítez went close with a wide free kick, and soon afterwards the visitors were back in front, Mikel Rico picking up a loose ball after Nyom crossed in and turning past Cañanas before beating Adrián for a second time. Betis's four match unbeaten run had come to an end, and they are now in danger of losing their hard fought fourth spot in the table. (09.11.12)