Sevilla followed up their midweek cup win with a 3-0 victory over neighbours Granada on Monday night, a result which takes Unai Emery's side up to eleventh in the table. The locals got off to an electrifying start, Roberto having to keep out Reyes, Negredo and Fazio in the first fifteen minutes, and with half an hour on the clock Kondogbia headed them in to the lead from a Rakitic corner. Either side of half time referee Gil Manzano let Mainz off a possible penalty on Kondogbia, and Diakhaté off a red card for a challenge on Medel which left the midfielder with a bandaged head, and Navas almost scored a second with an overhead kick which just missed the post. The locals wrapped things up though with two more goals in a four minute period later on in the second half, the first a Negredo header from a Rakitic cross, and the second a shot from close up by Medel after Negredo's attempted shot from a Rakitic corner bounced across to him, leaving Granada on the brink of the drop zone and their coach Juan Antonio Anquela possibly facing the chop this week. (28.01.13)
Barcelona recovered their eleven point lead at the top of the table after thrashing Osasuna 5-1 on Sunday evening. After their defeat against Real Sociedad last weekend there were some doubts as to whether their form was faltering, but within just over ten minutes gone Messi picked up Xavi's pass to dummy past Andrés and open the scoring. Raoul Loe did make it all square midway through the first half after Marc Bertrán's cross deflected to him, but four minutes later Arribas got himself sent off after picking up a second yellow card for blocking Adriano's shot with his arm in the area, and Messi stepped up to drill home the resulting penalty. Shortly before half time Pedro made it three, although it probably shouldn't have counted as Dani Alves was clearly in an offside position when he picked up Xavi's pass in the build up. And after the restart Messi scored two more in as many minutes to take his total for the season in the league to 33 goals, the first after picking up an assist from David Villa, and the second after Adriano put him through. Business as normal, and last week's small set-back has already been forgotten.
Second placed Atlético Madrid were beaten 3-0 though later in the day by an Athletic Bilbao side who finally appear to have recovered their form. The Basque side dominated the first half, with De Marcos and San José going close, and Courtois having to make first class saves from Susaeta and Ander. Iraizoz did well to keep out Diego Costa in a rare attack by the visitors shortly before the break, but five minutes in to the second half San José finally gave the locals the lead when he ran in to head Susaeta's corner in to the far bottom corner of the net. Raúl García tested Iraizoz again a few minutes later, but Courtois had to stop from De Marcos before Susaeta picked up an Ander assist to beat him for the second time. That just about wrapped things up, and De Marcos made sure of the three points with a third goal after Aduríz laid the ball across from left of the area near the end.
Real Madrid close to within four points of Atlético after they beat Getafe 4-0 in this Sunday's mid-day kick-off. It was an impressive performance from Mourinho's side just a few days before they meet Barcelona in the cup, with Moyà having to be at his best to prevent Ronaldo and Özil from scoring early on, and Di María and Modric seeing their efforts just fail to hit the target before the break. With Casillas injured, Adán was given the nod in goal ahead of new signing Diego López, and his confidence grew as he made a couple of competent saves from Diego Castro. Otherwise though the visitors hardly troubled him, and a few minutes in to the second half his side went ahead, Sergio Ramos poking the ball in to the net after Moyà dropped a corner under more than fair pressure from Carvalho. That opened the floodgates, and Cristiano Ronaldo took advantage to help himself to a ten minute hat-trick, the first two following assists by Özil and Di María, and the third from the penalty spot after Lopo fouled Modric in the area. Roll on next Wednesday!
Málaga are back up to fourth after a 2-3 win against Mallorca in their Iberostar stadium. The Andalusians raced in to a two goal lead, Saviola firing home the first after Isco's long free kick was headed away, and Isco himself making it two after connecting with Monreal's cross to sweep a shot past Calatayud from the far post. Víctor Casadesús got one back after Hemed headed down Giovani's centre, and Hemed and Giovani both wasted chances as Caparrós urged his players forward before the break. However with an hour on the clock Monreal picked up a pass from Portillo to run on and score his side's third with a low, angled shot. Ten minutes later Giovani notched up a second for the islanders with an impressive free kick which went in off the crossbar, but even though the visitors had Demichelis sent off for a hard tackle on Javi Márquez, Pellegrini's side held fast to leave their opponents further down in the relegation zone.
Betis are out of the Champions League spots however after they fell to a 3-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano. Piti was given an award before kick-off to celebrate his 200th game in a Rayo shirt, and within four minutes he had his name on the scoreboard, converting a penalty after Adrián brought down Delibasic in the area. Trashorras rattled the crossbar a few minutes later, but Rubén Castro came close to an equaliser when he fired a shot just wide shortly before half time. After the interval Lass went close before Delibasic headed in the second from a José Carlos cross. Rubén was called upon later on to keep out Salva Sevilla and Castro, but with eight minutes to go José Carlos picked up the ball on the edge of the area after Adrián punched clear a Trashorras corner, and the ex-Sevilla forward made himself space to poke in the third. The win takes the Madrid based side up to sixth, just a point behind their opponents in the table. (27.01.13)
Valencia bounced back from their midweek cup defeat with a 2-3 win at bottom club Deportivo in the last match on Saturday evening. Jonas headed the Ches in to a first minute lead from Piatti's corner, and Nelson Valdez could have added to the lead had he been able to find a way past Aranzubia. However Diego Alves had to save from Pizzi at the other end, and Riki went close before he got on the end of Pizzi's free kick to head home the equaliser. With the first half coming to a close Riki beat Alves for a second time after Bruno Gama put him through, but the Galicians were left with ten men when Silvio picked up a second booking soon after the restart, and Valdez made it all square once again from Bernat's cross a few minutes later. The locals held on after that until injury time, but with the game coming to a close Ricardo Costa headed in Guardado's cross, and things got worse for Domingos Paciencia's side when his other new signing Paulo Assunçao also got himself sent off after catching Valdez with a flying elbow.
Valencia are up to fifth pending Sunday's games, and their city rivals Levante are just behind them after a late 2-1 win at Valladolid. Javi Baraja gave Djukic's side the lead early on with a first time shot after a corner came back out to him, but after that it took two or three good saves by Dani Hernández, in particular from Diop and Martins, to keep the visitors ahead. However Barkero levelled it with a well-struck free kick shortly before half time, and only another great stop by Hernández prevented the midfielder from turning the scoreline around a couple of minutes later. After the interval neither side created any clear cut chances, but with a draw seemingly on the cards Rukavina turned the ball in to his own net trying to stop Martins from controlling Valdo's short pass.
The other two matches on Saturday ended all square, with Celta picking up a point in a 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad which helps them edge away from the drop zone. The early chances fell to the Basque side, Javi Varas saving from Carlos Vela and Ifrán missing an open goal. However Augusto Fernández forced Bravo in to a good save at the other end, and with just over half an hour on the clock Krohn-Dehli ran on to a clever back-heel pass from Iago Aspas to open the scoring with an angled shot. Bravo had to tip another effort from the Danish midfielder over the bar before the break, but soon after the restart Fernández was sent off for a second bookable offence, and a few minutes later Elustondo headed the equaliser from Chory Castro's corner.
Espanyol are also moving away from the relegation spots under the watchful eye of Javier Aguirre, and they remain two points ahead of the Galicians after a 0-0 draw at Zaragoza. Although it was a lively first half, neither keeper was particularly tested until Roberto had to make saves from Sergio García and Stuani either side of half time. Kiko Casilla responded with stops from Víctor Rodríguez and Zuculini in the second half, and both teams ended with ten men after Javi López and then Sapunaru were sent off after picking up second bookings. The result keeps the Maños a point ahead of their opponents in the table. (26.01.13)