Monday night's game saw Sevilla clock up a late 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao to keep the Andalusians in touch with the European spots. Negredo got on the end of a long Rakitic free kick to give Unai Emery's side an early lead, and the Spanish international striker went close a couple of times later in the first half. Athletic responded with two efforts by Llorente just wide of the post, and although Coke turned a Medel cross against the upright soon after the break, Gurpegui headed the equaliser from a wide Ibai Gómez free kick minutes later. Both teams were left with ten men when an officious Mateu Lahoz (who showed thirteen yellow cards in all) sent off Fernando Navarro and Laporte for second bookable offences, and with three minutes to go Negredo got on the end of a Reyes cross to score the winner. (08.04.13)
Fewer goals on Sunday after the high scoring fest of the last couple of days, and none at all in the local derby between Getafe and Atlético Madrid. Even Falcao was not on his usual form, the Colombian striker firing a good chance wide early on and coming up against Codina later in the first half. The local keeper also had to save from Adrián and Gabi before the break, and his opposite number Courtois was in action to keep out Diego Castro and Lafita before half time, and Abdel Barrada soon after the restart. Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Falcao all tested Codina again in the second half, and the locals felt they should have had a penalty when referee Delgado Ferreiro awarded them a free kick outside of the area for a foul on Codina. An over-zealous Delgado left Atlético with nine men later on though when he sent off Mario Suárez and then Godín for second bookable offences, and after that Simeone pulled his men back to defend the point.
With an eleven point gap over Real Sociedad, Atlético's third place still looks safe, but the last Champions League spot is still wide open, Valencia staying within two points of the Basque side after a last gasp 2-1 victory over ten man Valladolid. The Ches totally dominated the first half, and only a series of saves by Dani Hernández from Jonas, Canales and Soldado kept the visitors in the game. Shortly before half time however he could do nothing when Matieu headed on a Tino Costa corner, and the ball hit Balenziaga to bounce back in to the net. Omar Ramos finally gave Guaita some work to do at the start of the second half, but soon afterwards the locals were awarded a penalty when Sereno brought down Soldado in the area, the defender having to leave the field of play after picking up a second booking for the foul. Hernández saved Soldado's spot kick however, and a few minutes later Oscar made it all square after running on to Rukavina's cross to fire a shot in to the top corner of the net. That appeared to be it, but with the game in injury time Rami took a quick throw which should have been taken by the visitors, and Jonas headed in Jonathan Viera's cross to give his team the three points.
This year even eighth spot could mean a place in Europe though, and neighbours Rayo Vallecano and Getafe are currently fighting it out for that position after Rayo won 0-2 at Celta in this Sunday's mid-day game. The visitors got off to a good start, Javi Varas having to keep out Leo Baptistao before Piti got on the end of a Lass cross to turn a shot past the keeper with his heel. Park and Orellana fired shots wide and Trashorras brought a good save out of Rubén as Abel Resino's team fought back, but Baptistao could have added to the lead when he fired a shot just wide and then hit the post either side of half time. Delibasic did get a second goal however late on after Casado set him up, and only another good stop by Varas prevented José Carlos from adding a third. The defeat leaves the Galicians down in next to bottom place, three points away from safety.
With eight games to go, the three relegation places look like being between five teams, Granada, Zaragoza, Deportivo, Celta and Mallorca, although Osasuna are still not clear of danger after they were beaten 0-2 by Espanyol.The Catalans had the better of the first half, with Andrés deflecting a Sergio García shot against the bar and Stuani heading just wide, although Kike Sola wasted a good opportunity to put the home side in front when he turned a De las Cuevas cross past the post with the goal at his mercy. Soon after the restart though Stuani steered another header just wide of the mark, and soon afterwards Javier Aguirre's side took the lead, Moreno's header from a Wakaso corner hitting Gato Silva before entering the net. Osasuna finally reacted, Casilla doing well to keep out De las Cuevas and Nino having a headed goal ruled out for a borderline offside and then firing a shot just wide of the upright. But with the game in time added on Petrov put Wakaso away down the left wing, and the Ghanaian winger rounded the advancing keeper to score a second which takes his side on to a fairly comfortable 39 points. (07.04.13)
A high scoring start to the weekend, with no less than 28 goals in the first five matches. Leaders Barcelona were missing Messi after he picked up an injury in the midweek Champions League game, but even so they ran out 5-0 winners over Mallorca in the last match on Saturday. Cesc Fàbregas was given the "false striker" role in Messi's absence, and he took full advantage, helping himself to three goals and setting up two more for Alexis. By half time they were already four up, Fàbregas scoring the first and the third, also with assists from Alexis, and the ex Arsenal midfielder completing his hat-trick after picking up a pass from Iniesta just a minute after the restart. The visitors felt they should have had a penalty when Thiago handled in the area, and Nsue, Alfaro and Giovani went close, but otherwise they were outclassed, and they ended the day down at the bottom of the table. With the game won Tito Vilanova rested players for the return leg against Paris Saint Germain, bringing on Giovani's brother Jonathan, rising star Deulofeu, and then Eric Abidal, who was given a standing ovation by the crowd after making a first appearance since his liver transplant a year ago. A festival atmosphere in the Nou Camp, but Vilanova knows that next Wednesday's match will not be as easy as this one.
Second placed Real Madrid came from a goal down to win 5-1 against Levante, a victory which maintains the thirteen point gap behind the leaders. José Mourinho also rested many of his best players ahead of Tuesday night's visit to Galatasaray, and Madrid appeared to have paid the price when Michel ran on to a Pedro Ríos return pass to open the scoring for the visitors on the half hour mark. However soon afterwards Higuaín equalised with an acrobatic overhead shot from Xabi Alonso's cross, and Kaká scored a second from the penalty spot three minutes later after his cross deflected off Diop on to Lell's arm. Mourinho brought on Ronaldo at the break and Di María a few minutes later, but Munúa and his defence kept out efforts from Pepe and Arbeloa amongst others, and it was not until Özil also made his appearance that the locals finally wrapped things up. With six minutes to go Ronaldo controlled Higuaín's cross to score his side's third, and Özil added two more in the last five minutes for what was in the end a flattering result.
Spain's other Champions League quarter-finalist Málaga also rested several key players for their visit to fourth placed Real Sociedad, but without the depth of squad of Barça and Madrid they fell to a 4-2 defeat which left them four points adrift of the Basque side in the table. The locals got off to the best possible start, Griezmann hitting the bar before Carlos Vela opened the scoring, turning a shot past Kameni after the keeper could only push out Agirretxe's header from Griezmann's corner. Four minutes later De la Bella made it two after latching on to a loose ball outside of the area, and Griezmann himself scored the third after chesting on a long pass by Agirretxe from his own half. Chile's Pedro Morales got one back for the visitors before the break, his fellow countryman Claudio Bravo only able to push his long shot in to his own net, but six minutes in to the second half Iñigo Martínez connected with Rubén Pardo's corner to head a fourth past the keeper. Vela came close to a fifth when his shot was deflected on to the post a few minutes later, and Santa Cruz completed the scoring with twenty minutes to go when he headed a long Antunes cross past the local keeper.
There were another five goals as well in the Riazor stadium, where Deportivo beat Zaragoza 3-2 to move off last spot to within a point of their opponents in the table. It was an intense match between two relegation rivals, with the lead changing hands twice before the Galicians ran out winners in the end. Riki tested Roberto early on, and with ten minutes gone Bruno Gama opened the scoring after picking up Valerón's pass and cutting past his marker to score. Postiga made it all square from the penalty spot five minutes later however after Aythami handled in the area, and although Aguilar felt that his header had crossed the line before the visiting keeper got it away soon afterwards, Paco Montañés ran on to Movilla's through ball to give the Maños the lead a minute later. Before the half time whistle though Marchena levelled the scores once again when Aguilar headed the ball over after Pizzi's free kick was only partly cleared, and Aythami came close to putting the locals ahead when he hit the post and then saw his header cleared off the line by Loovens soon after the restart. A couple of minutes later Depor did take the lead again when Abraham could only could only chest Pizzi's corner in to his own net, referee José Antonio Teixeira Vitienes turning down Zaragoza's appeal for a foul on the keeper, and any hope of saving anything ended when the unfortunate Abraham was sent off for a second bookable offence with ten minutes to go. (06.04.13)
Betis moved up to sixth spot pending the rest of the weekend's games, only a point behind fourth placed Real Sociedad, after beating neighbours Granada 1-5 on Friday evening. Pepe Mel's side scored three times in a five minute period around the half hour mark, Rubén Castro collecting Vadillo's cross to open the scoring, and then adding a second after Pabón's chip came back off the crossbar, and Iñigo López unable to avoid putting the third through his own net after Paulao headed a Pabón free kick against the bar. Castro turned provider to set up Pabón for the fourth soon after the restart, and Aranda finally got one back for the locals with an angled header down past Adrián from a Juanma Ortíz cross. Any hope of a miracle recovery ended though when Siqueira was sent off for a second bookable offence, and Angel completed the scoring with five minutes to go after running through from his own half to shoot wide of Toño. Lucas Alcaraz's side have now only picked up two points in their last seven games, and the defeat leaves them even closer to the drop zone. (05.04.13)