Zaragoza and Granada stay just above the relegation spots after they cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw on Monday evening. The Maños had not won a single game since the start of the new year, and once again they were forced back from the start, Ighalo heading just wide early on and then steering a header against the far post following a corner. Rochina replied for the locals with a couple of long shots just wide of the mark, and after the interval Sapunaru came closest to scoring when Toño just managed to push his header from a long free kick over the crossbar. Otherwise though neither keeper was particularly troubled, and at the end of the day Zaragoza remain just two points above the bottom three, with their opponents a point and a place above them in the table. (11.03.13)
Real Madrid are up to second in the table after a 1-2 victory at Celta on Sunday evening. After the gruelling mid-week game against Manchester United, Mourinho rested many of his first choice players, including the whole of the back four who played in Old Trafford. It took the replacements some time to settle though, and Diego López had to be at his best to keep out Augusto Fernández, Iago Aspas and Alex López in the opening ten minutes. However after that Madrid wrested back control, and Javi Varas was forced to make important saves from Benzema and Callejón. Shortly before half time Ronaldo headed against the bar, and after the break Varas was in action again to keep out Benzema. With an hour gone Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring from close to goal after Callejón's shot was blocked following an Özil corner, but just two minutes later Iago Aspas equalised, his shot on the turn taking a wicked deflection off Pepe before spinning past the keeper. Ronaldo restored the lead though from the penalty spot a few minutes later after Varas brought down Kaká inside the area, and although Park headed against the crossbar, Higuaín could have increased the lead had he been able to take advantage of a couple of chances late on.
Mourinho's side move a point above city rivals Atlético Madrid, who were beaten 0-1 by Real Sociedad later in the evening. The Basques were the last team to take points away from the Calderón stadium some fifteen home games ago, and having been the first to beat Barcelona this season they fancied their chances. However they made little impression on Courtois in the first half, and the locals had several chances to go ahead, particularly with a couple of long shots from Turan which just failed to hit the target. Eight minutes in to the second half however the visitors got what was to prove the only goal on a rapid breakaway, Xabi Prieto picking up Griezmann's pass from a possible offside position and running on to shoot under the keeper, the first goal he had let in at home in the league for a record 820 minutes. After that Simeone threw everything forward, but Bravo made first class saves from Godín and Miranda, and Raúl García and Turan saw late efforts go wide. The win takes Montanier's side up to fifth, level on points now with fourth placed Málaga.
Real Sociedad are now two points above Valencia, who lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao in this Sunday's mid-day match. Still rattled by their elimination from the Champions League midweek, the Ches allowed themselves to be dominated in the first half. However Aduríz failed to take advantage of a couple of early chances, and Ibai Gómez came up against Guaita at first, and the crossbar later on from a well struck free kick. After the break though the visitors improved, Iraizoz having to save from Feghouli and Piatti, and Piatti and Soldado going close. But with ten minutes to go substitute Muniain latched on to a loose ball after Mathieu only partly cleared a De Marcos cross to curl a shot wide of the keeper. And although Jonas, Soldado and Piatti all could have scored after that, Iraizoz and hid defence held fast for a second win in a row which takes them eight points clear of the drop zone.
Getafe are now three points away from the European spots after they held Levante to a 0-0 draw in their Ciudad de Valencia stadium. With Martins on his way to join Seattle, Acquafresca was given a rare start up front, and with less than a minute on the clock he brought a first save out of Moyà. A few minutes later Pedro López fired a shot against the crossbar, and later in the first half Iborra almost caught out the visiting keeper with a shot from inside his own half. The visitors hardly managed a shot at goal throughout the ninety minutes, and Levante felt they should have had the three points when a late Iborra free kick bounced down off the crossbar over the line. However the play was too quick for either Undiano Mallenco or his linesman to spot it, and after Moyà kept out El Zhar and Navarro the locals had to settle for a point. (10.03.13)
A Barcelona side packed with reserve players had more problems than expected before running out 2-0 winners against bottom club Deportivo. With one eye on Tuesday night's Champions League tie against AC Milan, Jordi Roura left Messi, Iniesta and other first choice players on the bench. But even so a competitive line-up dominated the first half, Aranzubia having to save from Dani Alves, Tello and David Villa, and Fàbregas putting a good chance wide. With seven to go to the break Alexis got free of his marker to steer in a header which the visiting keeper got to after it had crossed the line, and Villa came close to a second when he shot just wide shortly before the break. After the restart Valerón was lucky to get away with a hand ball inside the area, but with Depor growing in confidence Roura was forced to bring on Messi, Iniesta and then Busquets. Iniesta tested Aranzubia again with a long shot, Messi turning in the rebound only to be pulled up for offside, and with two minutes to go Messi finally wrapped things up after running on to an Alexis return pass to lift a shot over the keeper, extending his scoring record to seventeen consecutive league games. A first clean sheet in fourteen matches as well, by chance with Pinto in goal replacing the suspended Valdés, but then Depor didn't manage a shot on target all night. The same result on Tuesday evening will level the tie, although Milan will certainly not be so forgiving!
Málaga stay in fourth place, for the time being at least, after a 1-1 draw at Valladolid. Pellegrini also rested key players ahead of their midweek Champions League clash, but they took the lead in only the eighth minute when Demichelis got on the end of Piazón's cross following a short free kick to head past Dani Hernández. Willy Caballero was called upon after that however to keep out Omar, Bueno and Rukavina, and with four minutes to go to the break Manucho headed the equaliser from Alvaro Rubio's cross. With the rain falling heavily in the second half, Larsson got free on goal only to be thwarted by the keeper, and Manucho just failed to reach a couple of dangerous crosses by Rukavina. Oscar also missed a couple of chances, and at the other end Seba Fernández and Pedro Morales both couldn't find the target late on. A point apiece in the end, which keeps Málaga ahead of Betis, and takes Djukic's side closer to their first objective of staying up for another season.
Rayo Vallecano are only three points behind Málaga though, albeit in eighth spot, after they beat Espanyol 2-0 earlier in the afternoon. Chori Domínguez opened the scoring early on, forcing a shot past Kiko Casilla from a Leo Baptistao cross, and the visiting keeper had to be on his guard to save from Domínguez and Piti later on in the first half. Only Sergio García caused any problems for his opposite number Rubén though, and at half time Javier Aguirre turned to Verdú and Wakaso. Casilla still had to save from Baptistao again after the break, but the Catalans came close to levelling the scores, Sergio García shooting wide and Verdú almost catching out Rubén with an inswinging corner. However with a quarter of an hour to go Piti beat Casilla to a long ball from Jordi Figueras to turn a shot in to the empty net, and although Stuani tested Rubén again late on, there was no way back for the away side.
Sevilla lost ground on the teams above them however after they lost 2-1 at Mallorca in the last match of the evening. The Balearic Islanders had not won at home since the 23rd September last year, but Alfaro gave them the lead against his old side when he turned a shot back in to the net after Beto could only push out Giovani's free kick. Gregorio Manzano's team could have added to the scoreline after that, Alfaro and Giovani bringing top class saves out of the visiting keeper either side of half time, and Martí rattled the crossbar after a corner came out to him early on in the second half. Negredo made it all square though after controlling a Rakitic through ball before steering a shot past Aouate, but just five minutes later Mallorca were back in front Alfaro scoring his second of the evening from close up after Giovani headed a corner against the upright. Unai Emery threw everything forward, and Babá in particular went close a couple of times, but the locals held of for a second win in a row which takes them to within a point of safety pending Sunday's games. (09.03.13)
Betis moved level on points with fourth placed Málaga pending the rest of the weekend's games after beating Osasuna 2-1 on Friday evening. A waterlogged pitch made play difficult, but even so both keepers were in action early on, Andrés saving a Molina header and Adrián tipping a long shot from Armenteros over the bar. Soon afterwards Molina got on the end of Joel Campbell's cross to head the locals in to the lead, and shortly before half time Juan Carlos missed a chance to put his side further in front when he turned a Rubén Castro cross over the bar on a quick breakaway. The visitors got back in the game after the restart however, Armenteros being pulled up for a non-existent offside when free on goal, and De las Cuevas bringing a good save out of Adrián before Gato Silva got on the end of Cejudo's cross to equalise. Osasuna's joy only lasted five minutes though before Rubén Castro ran on to a through ball from substitute Pabón to put the Andalusians back ahead, and any hope that Mendilibar's side had of saving a point ended when Silva was sent off for a foul on Molina in injury time. (08.03.13)