Betis and Deportivo drew 1-1 on Monday evening, a result which kept the Galicians a point above the drop zone, but left the home side four points behind sixth placed Valencia. A run of five games without defeat had taken Depor out of the bottom three, and they went ahead in the sixth minute when Riki picked up the ball in his own half and ran on to beat Adrián. The local keeper had to be at his best later in the first half to save from Riki and Aythami, but Beñat and Campbell went close at the other end, and Aranzubia had to be on his toes to keep out Jorge Molina shortly before the break. Pepe Mel brought on Pabón at half time, and the substitute fired a shot just wide of the post almost immediately. And a couple of minutes later Betis were level when Molina ran on to a long ball from midfield to cut past Kaká to score. Beñat and Pizzi both caused problems with free kicks after that, but in the end the two sides had to settle for a point apiece, which benefitted the visitors more than it did their hosts. (29.04.13)
Real Sociedad closed in the fourth Champions League spot after a thrilling 4-2 victory over their nearest rivals Valencia on Sunday night. The Ches started the game just two points behind their hosts, and they took the lead midway through the first half when Soldado headed Cissokho's cross past Claudio Bravo. The local keeper was lucky to stay on the park when the referee failed to see him handle outside of the area soon afterwards, but a few minutes later Iñigo Martínez hooked in the equalizer following a set-piece corner. Both teams had chances after that, but with just over a quarter of an hour left on the clock Chory Castro put the locals ahead after combining with Agirretxe on a rapid breakaway. When Agirretxe turned in a Xabi Prieto cross on another counter-attack to make it three with four minutes to go the game appeared to be over. But three minutes later Jonas narrowed the gap again after Bravo could only push out Piatti's shot, and the result was in doubt until Agirretxe ran through from midfield to wrap things up.
Málaga are still hoping for a reprieve on their European ban for next season, but in the meantime they are getting on with the job of trying to finish in the top six. And this Sunday they took another step towards doing just that after a 2-1 victory over one of their direct rivals, Getafe, a result which took them back up to fifth. Isco felt himself unlucky to have a strike ruled out for a non-existent offside, but with six minutes to go to the break the Andalusians did take the lead, Santa Cruz heading a Sergio Sánchez cross wide of Codina. The visiting keeper did well to tip a Baptista header over the bar at the start of the second half, but he could do nothing to stop Weligton from heading the resulting Pedro Morales corner in to the net to make it two. With twenty minutes to go though, Valera volleyed one back after Juan Rodríguez deflected a headed pass back in to his path, and after that there were some nervous moments for the home fans before the referee blew the final whistle.
Sevilla too have a chance of making it to Europe next season, although they are still a few points short after drawing 1-1 at Valladolid. Unai Emery's side started well, with Navas and Fazio in particular bringing good saves out of Jaime before the break. The locals themselves also needed points though to ensure another season in the top flight, and after Ebert fired a free kick just over the top, the German midfielder sent Javi Guerra away for him to beat Palop shortly before half time. After the restart Jaime was in action again to keep out a Negredo header, but with an hour on the clock the visitors were awarded a penalty when Marc Valiente blocked Coke's cross with his arm, and Negredo slotted home the resulting spot kick. Ebert almost restored the lead soon afterwards with a long shot against the crossbar, Javi Guerra missed a last minute sitter from two yards out, and Jaime made further saves from Negredo and Navas at the other end, but both coaches had to settle for a point which all things considered was probably a fair result.
Granada reacted quickly to wins by relegation rivals Celta and Zaragoza this weekend, a 0-1 victory at Espanyol on Sunday lunchtime taking them two points clear of the bottom three. The Andalusians found themselves in next to bottom spot before kick-off after only picking up three draws from their last nine games, and they were up against a team with ambitions to reach the European places. It was a fairly dull contest though, with chances few and far between before Nolito got what was to prove the only goal with a free kick from left of the area which went in off the crossbar. The second half mirrored the first (except for the goal!), the only real chances a couple of efforts by Stuani which Roberto kept out, and a shot or two by Nyom which didn't really trouble Kiko Casilla. Three vital points for Lucas Alcaráz's side though, and the home fans criticised Espanyol's lack of ambition. (28.04.13)
A last minute equaliser by Athletic Bilbao deprived Barcelona of the win they needed to have a chance of tying up the league title this weekend, although it is really just a matter of time before they do so. With a Champions League semi-final coming up, Tito Vilanova rested many of his key players, and although Alexis hit the post early on, the locals took the lead when Susaeta turned in a low Aduríz cross midway through the first half. Aduríz headed a good chance wide and Susaeta fired a free kick against the bar either side of half time, and with half an hour to go Vilanova was forced to resort to Messi, who he had hoped to reserve for Wednesday. As ever his introduction revolutionized the game, the Argentinian star leaving five men for dead before curling the equaliser past Iraizoz, and just two minutes later heading on a Dani Alves cross for Alexis to score a second. With the game coming to an end though Ander Herrera made it 2-2 with a first time volley after Adriano could only head a De Marcos cross up in to the air, saving a much needed point which helps Bielsa's team edge away from the danger zone.
As it happened even a win would not have given Barça the league title this Saturday as second placed Real Madrid beat city rivals Atlético Madrid 1-2 later in the evening. With Mourinho also putting out a weakened side, the locals felt that this was their chance at last to end a fourteen year jinx, and also move level with their neighbours in the table. It certainly looked as if they were on their way to do so when Diego López could only push out an early Gabi free kick and Godín lifted the ball back over the keeper for Falcao to head in on the far post. But just nine minutes later Madrid were back level, Juanfran deflecting Di María's wide free kick in to his own net trying to clear. Courtois had to be at his best to keep out Benzema before the break, and after the restart Diego López almost allowed a looping header from Raúl García to enter the net. Soon afterwards Gabi missed his kick when free in front of goal, and a few minutes later the visitors took the lead when Di María ran on to Benzema's through ball to turn a shot past the keeper. Atleti had failed once again, and as the victors ran down the clock, many disgruntled fans left the ground early.
Celta moved out of the relegation spots pending the rest of the weekend's games after beating Levante 0-1 on Saturday afternoon. The Galicians came in to the game with renewed confidence after their last minute win against Zaragoza last weekend, and Krohn-Delhi almost caught out Keylor Navas with a cross-come-shot before he set up Augusto Fernández to head the opener in the twentieth minute. The locals had a chance to level the scores after the restart when referee Muñiz Fernández awarded them a non-existent penalty after Acquafresca slipped following a challenge by Jonny Castro, but Barkero fired the resulting spot kick just wide of the post. Roger headed just wide soon afterwards and substitute Simao Mate brought the save of the day out of Javi Varas in injury time, but Abel Resino's side held on to hand the Valencia based side their fourth defeat in a row.
Celta's victory put the pressure on Zaragoza and Mallorca, who started the last match in the bottom two spots as a result. The Maños in particular had not won a single game since the start of the new year, and coach Manolo Jiménez was lucky to still be in a job after the defeat against Celta last weekend. Once again his team went behind, Hemed heading in a wide Giovani free kick in the twelfth minute, but a quarter of an hour later Paco Montañés ran on to a Víctor Rodríguez through ball to equalise, and only a couple of good saves by Aouate prevented Sapunaru from getting a second soon afterwards. Roberto had to save from Alfaro though and Giovani fired a shot just wide either side of the break, but with an hour on the clock Postiga headed a Víctor Rodríguez centre wide of the keeper to put the locals in front. A misunderstanding between Paredes and Roberto allowed Arizmendi to level the match once again with eight minutes to go, but six minutes later Nunes failed to cut out a headed pass, and Rubén Rochina ran on to make it 3-2 for the home side. (27.04.13)
Rayo Vallecano and Osasuna opened the week 33 round of games with a 2-2 draw on Friday evening. Both teams really needed a win, the hosts to keep up their push for a place in Europe and the visitors to move away from the danger zone. And the match got off to an electric start, Delibasic heading Paco Jémez's side in to the lead from a Lass cross with six minutes gone, but Raoul Loe and Arribas turning the scoreline around with two headers from corners in the next seven minutes. Things quietened down after that, but Piti saved a point for the locals soon after the restart, turning the ball in to an empty net after Chori Domínguez set him up on a quick breakaway. (26.04.13)