Osasuna move five points clear of the relegation spots after a 1-2 win at Levante on Monday evening. Visiting keeper Andrés was the best player in the first half, with saves from Martins and Ballesteros amongst others, although Keylor Navas also had to keep out a couple of efforts from De las Cuevas at the other end. After the interval Navas was lucky to stop a shot from Arribas which came down off the crossbar, and he also had to save from Armenteros soon afterwards. However with a couple of minutes to go substitute Masoud picked up a short pass from Armenteros and ran on to curl a shot inside the far top corner of the net, and with the game in the fourth minute of injury time Kike Sola wrapped things up after Puñal intercepted a sloppy pass out of defence to put him free on goal. (25.02.13)
Second placed Atlético Madrid stay four points clear of city rivals Real Madrid after a 1-0 victory over Espanyol on Sunday evening. Simeone's side had the better of the first half, although chances were few and far between before Héctor Moreno brought down Diego Costa inside the penalty area, and Falcao stepped up to convert the resulting penalty. Visiting keeper Kiko Casilla had to save from Godín and Costa soon afterwards, but with the first half coming to a close the locals were left with ten men when Gabi got himself sent off for a second bookable offence. Espanyol were looking to build on their recent form under ex Atlético coach Javier Aguirre which has seen them take sixteen points out of a possible eighteen though, and after the restart Javi López, Verdú, Stuani and Colotto all came close to equalising. Atleti held on however for a thirteenth straight home win, and Falcao almost added to the scoreline when he just failed to lob Casilla in the dying minutes.
Málaga stay in fourth place despite a 3-0 defeat at the hands of regional neighbours Betis later in the evening. All the goals came in the first half, Jorge Molina ending a seven and a half hour goal drought with a header from Beñat's corner with less than a minute on the clock. Willy Caballero had to be at his best to save from Molina soon afterwards, but midway through the first half Mario made it two with another header from another Beñat corner. Minutes later Betis were awarded a penalty when Camacho cut out Beñat's free kick with his arm, and although Molina's spot kick appeared to bounce down off the crossbar over the line, referee Estrada Fernández waved play on. It didn't matter much though in the end, Pabón scoring a third on the stroke of half time with a shot on the turn after Caballero could only push out his first header. After the break any chance the visitors had of a comeback ended when the unfortunate Camacho was sent off for a second bookable offence, and Pepe Mel's team ran the clock down after that for a win which takes them back up to within a point of the European spots.
Rayo Vallecano drop down to eighth however after losing 1-2 to Valladolid in this Sunday's mid-day kick-off. The visitors had the better chances in the first half, with Rubén having to save from Alberto Bueno and Lluis Satre hitting the bar. Dani Hernández had to keep out Trashorras and Tito at the other end after the interval, but with twenty minutes to go Jordi Amat headed a Bueno free kick back in to his own net to put the visitors in front. A minute later the central defender made up for his mistake with a spectacular equaliser from just over the half-way line, but Manucho restored the lead soon afterwards after Bueno intercepted a poor pass from Gálvez to set him up. Bueno himself hit the post after that with a shot on the turn, but substitute Tamudo could have saved a point for the locals had Dani not kept out his header near the end.
Further down the table Celta moved to within two points of safety after a 2-1 victory over Granada. New coach Abel Resino was on the bench in the Balaidos stadium for the first time since taking over from Paco Herrera, and he saw Toño save shots from Augusto Fernández and Orellana before the keeper could only block a shot from Alex López, Iago Aspas picking up the rebound and chipping the ball in to the net. Four minutes later though Ighalo volleyed home a Nyom cross to level the scores, and the Nigerian striker came close to a second when he hit the bar after the restart. With ten minutes to go however Mario Bermejo put the Galicians back into the lead after Aspas headed on a De Lucas cross, the striker failing to strike his shot cleanly but the ball looping past the keeper in to the net. A much needed three points for the home side after six games without a win, and they are now only three points behind their opponents in the table. (24.02.13)
Barcelona bounced back from their midweek Champions League defeat to beat Sevilla 2-1 on Saturday evening. They had to come from behind to do so though, ex Barcelona B defender Botía heading the Andalusians in to the lead from Coke's cross shortly before the break. Before that though the locals had dominated the game, albeit without too much effect, Messi bringing a good save out of Beto and then seeing two dangerous free kicks go wide, and Alves having a shot deflected over the bar off the back of a defender. Once again Jordi Roura was standing in for Tito Vilanova, who is having extensive treatment for his illness in New York, and the assistant coach brought on Tello for Alexis at the break. That sparked his team to life, and within fifteen minutes they had turned the scoreline around, David Villa heading in an Alves cross and Messi picking up Tello's square ball to score for a record 15th league game in a row. Unai Emery in particular had been reserving players for the midweek cup semi-final, but with his team behind he turned to Kondogbia and Negredo, and both went close as Sevilla threw caution to the winds. This time though Valdés and his defence held fast to increase their lead at the top of the table to a massive fifteen points.
Real Madrid also had to overcome an early goal at bottom club Deportivo before they too ran out 1-2 winners. New coach Fernando Vázquez was looking to turn things around in La Coruña, and his side had the better of the first half, Pizzi firing a couple of shots just wide before putting Riki through to beat Diego López with ten minutes to go to the break. Soon afterwards Marcelo headed another shot from Pizzi off the line with the keeper beaten, and Riki also went close before the half time whistle. Callejón tested Aranzubia either side of half time, but with his team failing to take control Mourinho in one swoop brought on Ronaldo, Özil and Khedira, who he had been saving for Tuesday's cup visit to the Nou Camp. That changed things, and with twenty minutes to go Kaká picked up Di María's return pass to curl a shot past the keeper from outside of the area. Ronaldo came close to netting in the Riazor stadium for the first time in his career (the only first division ground he has yet to score in), and with two minutes to go he combined with Kaká to set up Higuaín for the winner. With the game coming to a close Di María got himself sent off for two silly bookings in succession, but by then the contest was over. Madrid move to within a point of second placed Atlético pending their match on Sunday, and Depor are now nine points away from safety.
The pattern was repeated in the other three games played this weekend, the home sides unable to win despite opening the scoring. Zaragoza actually went two up against Valencia, Apoño getting the first from the penalty spot in only the fifth minute after Víctor Ruíz brought down Postiga inside the area, and Postiga adding the second on the half hour mark with a header from Apoño's wide free kick. However just four minutes later Jonas got one back, turning the ball past Leo Franco after Soldado stepped over Cissokho's cross, and with twenty minutes to go the Brazilian forward got his second of the evening after Víctor Ruíz headed across a Dani Parejo free kick. A few minutes later Leo Franco got himself sent off for handling outside of the area, and with first choice keeper Roberto suffering from an illness, B team's Pablo Alcolea came on to make the save of the evening from Soldado. The match ended in controversy when Postiga scrambled the ball in to the net in injury time only for the referee to rule out the strike for what he considered to be a foul on the keeper. A point apiece in the end though, which keeps Valencia in fifth place and takes the Maños five points clear of the drop zone.
Mallorca also scored first against Getafe, but in the end Gregorio Manzano's side sink further down into the drop zone after a 1-3 defeat at the hands of their opponents. Visiting keeper Moyà had to save from Víctor Casadesús and Hutton before Giovani cut in past Escudero to open the scoring midway through the first half. But with twenty minutes to go referee Fernando Teixeira Vitienes ruled that Nunes had blocked Gavilán's cross with his arm inside the area, and Diego Castro chipped in the resulting hotly disputed penalty. A few minutes later Alexis headed a Pedro León free kick against the upright, and in the last ten minutes Colunga scored twice to wrap things up, the first with a header in off the post from a Fede Fernández cross, and the second with a first time volley on the far post from Gavilán's floated centre. A first away win for Luis García's side since late November, and a ninth home match in a row for the islanders without a victory, leaving them now seven points away from safety. (23.02.13)
The last Basque derby in the old San Mamés stadium ended with a defeat for hosts Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad coming back from a goal down to win 1-3 in the end. Despite playing on a cold Friday evening, the stands were packed to see the last meeting between the eternal rivals before the ground is knocked down to make way for a new stadium. And the home side were keen to impress their fans, Aduríz in particular going close a couple of times before Ibai Gómez got on the end of Aurtenetxe's long cross to fire an impressive first time volley past Bravo. However just four minutes later Real equalised, Griezmann getting behind the defence to head Chory Castro's centre back past Raúl Fernández, and midway through the second half they took the lead after the keeper spilled Castro's free kick at the feet of a grateful Agirretxe. Ten minutes later some sloppy defending allowed Carlos Vela space to pick up Zurutuza's pass and steer a shot in to the far corner of the net, and although substitute Llorente caused a few problems after that, there was no way back for Athletic. Three more points for the visitors, who are up to fifth in the table after a run of seven games without defeat. But more bad news for Bielsa's side, and if they don't improve they may be inaugurating the new stadium in the second division. (22.02.13)