Valladolid are back to within a point of the top six after an unexpected 1-2 victory at Sevilla on Monday evening. Djukic's side began the match a point below the Andalusians in the table, but with only twelve minutes on the clock they were already two up, Ebert steering a shot past Diego López in the second minute and then setting up Oscar for a second a few minutes later. Only a great save from the local keeper prevented Manucho from scoring a third soon afterwards, and Ebert almost beat him again with a well struck free kick just before the break. With his two central defenders suspended, Michel had had to put out a make-shift defence, but he went for broke bringing on promising youngster Rabello for right back Cicinho with less than half an hour gone. That almost worked when the Chilean forward hit the post with a shot from outside of the area, and the hosts did get one back when Manucho headed a Reyes corner back in to his own net just five minutes in to the second half. However Michel's side were left with ten men when Medel picked up a second booking for a hard tackle on Manucho, and Manucho and Ebert could have increased the lead later on. (03.12.12)
Betis are back up to the Champions League spots after a 2-3 win at Deportivo on Sunday. Starting the game in the relegation spots, the locals were in need of points, and only a point blank save from Adrián prevented Riki from scoring early on. Valerón fired a shot against the crossbar soon afterwards, but Molina had to keep out Molina at the other end, and shortly before half time Rubén Castro got on the end of Nacho's cross to head the ball back past the keeper. Betis went further ahead some ten minutes after the restart, Castro again turning another Nacho cross in to the far corner of the net, but Riki scored two in the next few minutes to make it all square, the first with a header after Laure headed the ball back in to the area, and the second with a low shot which took a slight deflection off a defender. Pizzi failed to convert a couple of chances after that, but with a quarter of an hour to go Campbell picked up the ball outside of the area and struck a long shot wide of Aranzubia to tie up the three points.
The other three games on Sunday all ended in draws, with Levante saving a point at Celta in the last minute to stay in seventh spot in the table. A victory at Zaragoza last weekend together with their epic come back in the cup midweek had given the locals new confidence, and after dominating the first half they took the lead when De Lucas ran on to an Iago Aspas pass to beat Munúa, the referee waving away claims from the visitors for offside. And after the restart the Galicians kept up the pressure, Munúa the busiest man on the park with top class saves from Augusto Fernández, Cabral and Aspas, and Bermejo beating the keeper only for the strike to be ruled out for offside. Javi Varas had only really had to make a couple of stops from the dangerous Martins throughout the match, but with a minute to go Levante won a free kick just outside of the area, and although the defensive wall did its job, Barkero picked up the rebound and lifted the ball over for Michel to set up Roger to equalize from close range.
Earlier in the day the bottom two Granada and Espanyol cancelled each other out in a score-less draw. Javier Aguirre was in charge of the visitors for the first time after replacing Pochettino midweek, and he saw his side have the better of the first half, with Forlín, Stuani and Colotto all testing Toño. Torje went close a couple of times for the home side in reply, and after the interval Cristian Alvarez had to be at his best to keep out Dani Benítez, Ighalo and Borja as the Andalusians wrested control from their opponents. Siqueira had a late penalty claim turned down, but in the end both sides had to settle for a draw which, combined with Granada's midweek elimination from the cup, leaves local coach Juan Antonio Anquela facing an uncertain future.
Mallorca and Zaragoza also drew 1-1 in the last match of the evening, a result which keeps the Maños three points above their hosts, who themselves are now only one above the relegation spots after only picking up two points from their last nine matches. The game appeared to be swinging in favour of the hosts in the twelfth minute when Loovens gave away a penalty on Nsue, the ex Celtic defender having to take the long walk after picking up a second booking for the offence. However Roberto pushed Víctor's spot kick around the post, and just two minutes later Helder Postiga gave the visitors the lead after Apoño's long free kick bounced off two defenders to him. Hemed missed an easy chance after the break and Roberto made the save of the night from Nunes a few minutes later, but with four minutes to go Víctor made up for his mistake, running in to head the equaliser from Giovani's cross. (02.12.12)
Another impressive performance by Barcelona on Saturday, a 5-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao extending their amazing record to 40 points out of a possible 42. Iniesta brought a good save out of Gorka Iraizoz before Piqué opened the scoring midway through the first half, the defender playing the ball in to an empty net after Iraizoz could only push out a shot from Fàbregas. Just three minutes later Messi made it two after running on to a precision pass from Xavi, his chip past the keeper helped in to the net by Amorebieta. And for the rest of the first half Barça continued to attack, Iraizoz saving from Fàbregas and Messi hitting the crossbar before Adriano picked up a Fàbregas through ball to make it three on the stroke of half time. After the break the goals kept on coming, Fàbregas getting his name on the scoresheet after Iniesta set him up, but Athletic did finally make some inroads, with half time substitute Llorente heading over and Ander shooting wide before Ibai Gómez controlled a long ball from Iturraspe to beat Valdés. However Messi scored his second of the night soon afterwards to take him within a goal of Gerd Müller's record of 85 goals for a calendar year, and he came close to another hat-trick when he headed over following a quick passing move late on.
Barcelona increase their lead at the top to six points after second placed Atlético Madrid were beaten 2-0 by Real Madrid later in the evening. With the visitors starting the match an unprecedented eight points clear of their city rivals, there was hope that they could end a run of thirteen years and over twenty games without a win. However the smart bets were still on Mourinho's side, and in the end the derby swung once again in favour of the Merengues. It was a no-holds-barred contest however, particularly in a first half in which the game was constantly broken up by a serious of petty fouls, theatrics and complaints to the officials. Atlético only really troubled Casillas once throughout the ninety minutes, the keeper getting a hand to an early shot from wide out by Diego Costa, but soon afterwards Cristiano Ronaldo beat Courtois with a long free kick which dipped over the defensive wall in to the bottom corner of the net. After the restart Madrid started to carve out more chances, Ronaldo shooting just wide after Özil set him up, and then almost catching out Courtois with a low free kick. And twenty minutes in to the second half Özil made it two with a acrobatic volley after Ronaldo passed the ball back across the edge of the area. Ronaldo hit the woodwork twice after that, but Atlético were never going to get back in it, and they will have to wait a little longer at least before that long-awaited win.
Fourth placed Málaga kicked off the Saturday games with a 1-0 defeat at Getafe, a result which may well leave them outside of the Champions League spots by the end of the weekend. The locals had a couple of early penalty claims turned down by referee González González, but Moyà had to make two important saves from long shots by Toulalan and Isco before the break. Ten minutes in to the second half Lopo got ahead of his markers to head a Pedro León corner in on the near post, and soon afterwards Lafita came close to a second with a shot which curled just wide of the post. Pellegrini threw on all of his fire power though, and the locals were pushed back to defend. Santa Cruz lobbed a shot just over the top, and Moyà pushed a shot from Saviola on to the crossbar, and then did well to keep out Santa Cruz once again. However Getafe could have extended their lead near the end, Diego Castro failing to beat Caballero and Alcácer having a strike ruled out for offside. Castro's nerves got the better of him and he was sent off in injury time after picking up a second booking for protesting, but his side had clocked up a third win in a row which takes them up to sixth place, level on points with their opponents in the table.
Real Sociedad are just two points away from the European spots after an extraordinary 2-5 victory at Valencia. Soldado put the locals ahead early on after Bernat set him up, and although Diego Alves had to make two or three saves after that, there was no real indication of what was to come. However with four minutes to go to the break Jonas was sent off for an elbow on Zurutuza, and a couple of minutes later De la Bella ran on to Zurutuza's through ball and dummied past the keeper to equalise. After that the Basque side ran riot, Mikel González heading them in front after Rubén Pardo headed on Vela's corner, and Ifrán scoring a third after Vela had played a long clearance by Claudio Bravo in to his path. Soldado stopped the rot for a few minutes with his second of the evening from a Feghouli cross, but Agirretxe scored a fourth after Xabi Prieto headed across a long ball in to the area, and Vela completed the scoring from the penalty spot after he was tripped by Feghouli in injury time. After the final whistle there were violent protests from the fans about the team's recent poor form, with an idiot even throwing a flare in to the directors' box, and a hastily convened board meeting decided to fire Pellegrino soon afterwards. (01.12.12)
Osasuna climbed out of the relegation spots pending the rest of the weekend matches after beating Rayo Vallecano 1-0 in the Friday night game. The only goal came in the fifth minute, Kike Sola picking up Cejudo's pass and running on to beat Cobeño from a wide angle. An on-form Rayo were looking for a place in the top six though, and Leo Baptistao and Piti caused some difficulties for the local defence, Flaño cutting out a dangerous early pass from the former, and Andrés doing well to keep out a shot from the latter a few minutes after the goal. Sola responded with a shot just wide, and after the restart Cobeño had to make important saves from Cejudo and Armenteros. Again Piti fired a shot just wide and Leo had a strike ruled out late on for a marginal offside, but despite losing three players to injuries, the Pamplona based side held on for a much needed victory. (30.11.12)