Real Sociedad's push for the fourth Champions League spot took a set-back after they lost 2-1 to Getafe in this week's Monday night game. The Basque side needed a result after Valencia closed to within two points of them earlier in the weekend, and Carlos Vela got them off to the best possible start when he headed in Zurutuza's cross in the eighth minute. However ten minutes later Pedro León took advantage of a sloppy pass by Bergara to fire home the equaliser, and after Lafita missed an easy chance on the far post, Abdel Barrada put the home side in front after Bravo could only push out another shot from the makeshift striker. The visiting keeper did well to save a free kick and an inswinging corner by Pedro León after the interval, but Carlos Martínez and Griezmann also went close a few minutes later. Lafita should have killed things off though when he shot wide with only the keeper to beat in injury time, but the game ended soon afterwards to give the locals a win which takes them back above Sevilla to eighth. (06.05.13)
Barcelona are just two points away from the league title after a 4-2 victory over Betis on Sunday night, and they could even be proclaimed champions on Wednesday night if Real Madrid don't beat Málaga. The Catalans had to come from behind twice to do so though, Pabón giving the visitors a second minute lead after Pinto's long clearance was headed back in to his path. Iniesta set up Alexis to head the equaliser just six minutes later, and after that Villa missed two or three chances, and Tello fired in a shot which bounced down off the crossbar on to the line. But Pinto also had to keep out Salva Sevilla, and with a couple of minutes to go to the break Rubén Pérez picked up Nosa's short pass and fired an impressive shot in to the top corner of the net. Vilanova decided he had no option but to turn to Messi, still not fully fit after his hamstring injury, but before Villa left to make room, he made up for his misses with a header from a Dani Alves cross to level the scores once again. Messi got going straight away though, putting his side in front with a delightful free kick which Adrián could only watch in to the net, and a few minutes later he fired an almost identical free kick against the bar. The magic was back, and a clever back-heel pass by Iniesta allowed Alexis to set up Messi for the fourth. And with the game coming to a close only a good save by the visiting keeper prevented the little man from completing another hat-trick. It was just a pity that he didn't recover quickly enough to play in that second leg against Bayern.
Betis's defeat leaves the remaining Europa League spots wide open, and Sevilla closed to within three points of their city rivals after a 3-0 win over Espanyol. All the goals came in the first quarter of the match, Capdevila heading the first in to his own net trying to cut out a pass back from Jesús Navas. Coke added the second after Navas put him through soon afterwards, and Negredo got behind keeper Casilla to turn a long Rakitic centre in to the net for the third, the referee turning down claims for offside from the visitors. The Catalans started the match level on points with their hosts, but they offered little resistance, and Unai Emery's side could have added to their lead after that, Negredo and Rakitic going close before the break, and Casilla keeping out Fazio a couple of times after the restart. Capdevila and Verdú did test Beto for the first time late on, and Stuani fired a shot against the crossbar in the dying minutes, but by then it was all over.
Rayo Vallecano drop down below Sevilla to ninth after they lost 3-0 to a Zaragoza side who move out of the relegation spots as a result of their win. Manolo Jiménez's side were looking to build on last week's victory over Mallorca, their first since the start of the year, and Rubén had to be on his toes to keep out an Alvaro header early on. Midway through the first half though the locals were given a helping hand by referee Fernando Texeira Vitienes, who awarded them a non-existent penalty for what he considered to be hands by Jordi Figueras, Apoño slotting home the resulting spot kick. And although Roberto had to turn a long shot by Chori Domínguez round the post before the interval, Rodri made it two on the follow up after the visiting keeper could only push out Postiga's header. Soon afterwards Apoño cleared Piti's header off the line with the keeper beaten, but Postiga went close a couple of times after that, and with the game in injury time Apoño wrapped things up with a shot inside the post after Romeric intercepted an attempted pass out of defence.
Mallorca stay at the bottom of the first division however after they could only draw 1-1 with Levante on Sunday lunchtime. Gregorio Manzano's team took an early lead, Hemed picking up a Víctor Casadesús return pass in the seventh minute to beat Keylor Navas. But Iborra fired a long shot just wide of the post a few minutes later, and with the first half coming to an end Acquafresca headed the equaliser after the defence failed to cut out a Pedro Ríos cross. The islanders dominated the second half, with Conceicao getting the ball in the net only for the strike to be ruled out for a previous foul, and Navas saving well from Pina, Hemed and Alfaro. But Levante held on for a point which takes them closer to another season in the top flight, and their hosts ended the day four points away from safety. (05.05.13)
Barcelona will have to wait another week at least before they can celebrate the league title after Real Madrid beat Valladolid 4-3 on Saturday evening. Mourinho's side found themselves behind early on after Oscar intercepted Di María's attempted pass to Carvalho to run on and beat Diego López. And although Marc Valiente deflected Di María's shot in to his own goal and Ronaldo headed in a Di María cross to turn the scoreline around, Javi Guerra made it all square again when he turned in Omar's cross shortly before the break. Ronaldo rattled the crossbar though with a house special free kick before the half time whistle, and three minutes after the restart Kaká restored the lead for the locals after running on to Benzema's deflected pass. A few minutes later Ronaldo headed the fourth from Özil's corner, and although Lluis Sastre closed the gap to one goal with an impressive volley, the strike came too late to change the result.
Madrid are now eight points clear of third placed Atlético Madrid after Simeone's team were held to a 0-0 draw at Deportivo in the last match of the evening. Neither keeper was particularly troubled in the first half, Aranzubia's defence blocking shots from Falcao, Raúl García and Godín, and Courtois only having to deal with a couple of long efforts by Riki and Ayoze. After the break Gabi fired a long shot against the crossbar, and referee Ayza Gámez caused protests from both teams, turning down a couple of fair penalty appeals by the locals, and disallowing a goal for the positional offside of Godín after Miranda turned in Turan's cross. In the end though a seventh game in a row without defeat for the Galicians, who stay out of the bottom three as a result, and a sixth clean sheet away from home for Courtois, who is well on track for this season's Zamora prize, but not a great night of entertainment for the fans.
The top three are now sure of qualifying for the Champions League next season, but fourth spot is still up for grabs, and Valencia are now just two points behind Real Sociedad pending their match on Sunday after the Ches beat Osasuna 4-0 in the first game on Saturday afternoon. Mathieu almost turned a Kike Sola cross in to his own net early on, but otherwise the home side dominated, Saldoado going close a couple of times before opening the scoring after Andrés failed to hold on to a long shot by Jonas. Ricardo Costa headed the second from Tino Costa's wide free kick on the stroke of half time, and with an hour on the clock Banega made it three with a free kick in off the crossbar after Arribas was sent off for pushing over Soldado as he advanced on goal. The visitors were left with nine men when Timor picked up a second booking, and Jonas converted an injury time penalty after Nano blocked a Tino Costa cross with his arm to leave the Pamplona based side just two points above the relegation spots.
Málaga drop three points behind Valencia though after they were beaten 1-0 by regional rivals Granada later in the day. The locals were looking to build on their win last week to take them away from the danger zone, and Brahimi and Ighalo brought early saves out of Willy Caballero. Brahimi and Nolito went close soon afterwards, and with just under half an hour on the clock Ighalo got ahead of Demichelis to poke Brahimi's cross wide of the keeper. The visitors responded with a Morales free kick which Roberto punched clear, and Isco and Sergio Sánchez went close either side of half time. Brahimi fired a shot just over the top though after the break, and substitute Aranda battled his way through before coming up against Caballero, and although Antunes hit the bar with a cross-come-shot late on, Lucas Alcaraz's side held on for a win which takes them four points clear of the bottom three. (04.05.13)
Celta failed to get out of the bottom three after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Athletic Bilbao in this week's Friday night match. The Basques themselves still needed points to endure their safety for another season, and San José headed a corner against the crossbar as they got off to a strong start. Alex López also headed against the woodwork as the locals came back, but with three minutes to go to the break Iturraspe and Aduríz combined to set up De Marcos for the opener. The visitors came close to increasing their lead after the interval, Javi Varas making the save of the night from an Aduríz header, Ibai Gómez crashing a shot against the bar and Aduríz missing the easiest of chances after Muniain left him free in front of goal. However with seven minutes to go Iago Aspas picked up a through ball by Orellana to hold off two defenders and fire an angled shot past Iraizoz to level the match. Not the result either side wanted, but at least it was another point each in their fight for survival. (03.05.13)