Athletic Bilbao inaugurated the new San Mamés stadium with a 3-2 win over Celta on Monday night, a result which took the Basques back up to fifth in the table. The first goal in the new arena though came from the visitors after Erik Moran gave the ball away to Rafinha, the ex Barça B midfielder passing across for Charles to shoot wide of Herrerín. Four minutes later however San José levelled the scores after a long Beñat free kick came back to him off a defender, and soon afterwards Charles fired a penalty kick over the bar after the local keeper had fouled Nolito inside the area. Bilbao finally took the lead on the hour mark after a clever back-heel by Muniain left Iraola free to beat Yoel, and Beñat ran on to a long ball from San José to make it three a few minutes later. With ten minutes to go young substitute Santi Mina headed Toni's cross past the advancing Herrerín to close the gap once again, and although Fontàs had to clear off the line from De Marcos, there were some nervous moments for the home fans before the final whistle.
Earlier in the evening Elche and Valladolid drew 0-0, the point enough to keep the visitors ahead of their hosts, who climb out of the relegation spots above Almería as a result. The first chances fell to the locals, Diego Mariño saving from Coro and then getting back in time to tip a shot by Rubén Pérez from the half-way line over the bar. Javi Guerra was unable to convert a couple of opportunities at the other end, and Coro tried his luck a couple of times either side of half time, and both keepers had work to do after the interval, with Manu saving a couple of efforts from Valdet Rama, and Mariño making a spectacular stop from an Edu Albácar free kick near the end. A valuable point in the end though for both teams, who need as many as they can get to avoid problems come the end of the season. (16.09.13)
Espanyol moved up to fifth in the table pending Athletic Bilbao's game on Monday after a narrow 0-1 victory at Granada on Sunday lunchtime. The Catalans were lucky not to go behind on the half hour mark when Casilla failed to hold on to Fran Rico's corner, the keeper reacting quickly enough to push the ball away as it was entering the net. David López headed a long free kick over the bar and Riki went close either side of half time, but there were few chances until referee Iglesias Villanueva surprisingly awarded the visitors an indirect free kick for what he considered to be a back pass, Simao rolling the ball across for Lanzarote to curl a shot in off the post. Riki hit the upright as Granada came looking for the equalizer, but any hope of a comeback ended when Ighalo got himself sent off for arguing with the referee near the end.
Later in the evening there were first wins for Getafe, Málaga and Betis against Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano and Valencia respectively, all of which left Elche and Sevilla in the drop zone, and Osasuna in bottom spot without a point to their name to date. Getafe and Osasuna started the weekend down in the last two places, the visitors under new management after Javi Gracia replaced Mendilibar a few days ago. The change of coach appeared to be working when the local defence failed to clear a long Armenteros cross, and Roberto Torres picked up the ball on the far post before drilling an angled shot past Moyà. But either side of half time Miku scored twice to turn the scoreline around, the first a header from Pedro León's corner, and the second with a good run after picking up a short pass from Diego Castro. The Venezuelan striker also hit the post with an acrobatic shot in between, and after the restart Colunga fired a shot just wide. Osasuna could still have equalised though, Riera rattling the crossbar and Lolo poking a shot straight at the keeper following a long free kick, but Castro should have wrapped things up when he missed the easiest of chances late on.
Málaga also clocked up their first victory of the season, and they did so in style, beating Rayo Vallecano 5-0 with three goals from new boy El Hamdaoui. Bernd Schuster's side were on top right from the start, Angeleri heading wide and Rubén having to save from Morales and El Hamdaoui before the Moroccan striker got on the end of a quick Antunes breakaway to turn a shot past the keeper. That opened the way to four more goals within the next half hour or so, El Hamdaoui unselfishly passing across for Portillo to score the second shortly before half time, and Eliseu curling a right foot shot past Rubén to make it three soon after the interval. Midway through the second half El Hamdaoui added two more in five minutes to complete his hat-trick, the first after a quick passing move between Gámez and Morales, and the second with an angled shot which found a gap inside the near post, and Schuster pulled his new star off near the end to allow the crowd to give him a rousing ovation.
Betis rounded off the evening with their first win in the league this season, beating Valencia 3-1 to move above their opponents in the table. The locals were already three up at the break, Salva Sevilla winning the ball in midfield and setting up Jorge Molina for him to beat Diego Alves with a low shot in the tenth minute. Sevilla himself scored the second after a quick passing move with Juanfran and Molina, and although the visitors had a goal disallowed for a positional offside, Sevilla popped up again to collect a pass from Vadillo and steer a shot under the legs of the keeper. Either side of half time Alves was in action again to keep out Sevilla and Molina, and it was only in the last half hour that Djukic's side woke up, Sara doing well to save a Dani Parejo free kick before Ricardo Costa headed in another free kick from Banega. Even so substitute Cedrick could have done more damage had he been able to convert a couple of chances near the end. (15.09.13)
Spain's four Champions League sides all played on Saturday evening, with wins for Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, and draws for Real Madrid and Real Sociedad. Barcelona almost threw it away though against Sevilla, Alexis getting the winner with virtually the last kick of the match after the Andalusians had come back from two down. Unai Emery's side held their own early on, and only a Messi free kick caused any problems for their defence before Dani Alves headed in Adriano's cross with ten minutes to go to the break. Twenty minutes after the restart Cala was unlucky to have a headed goal ruled out following a corner for a foul which only the referee saw, and although Messi made it two after Neymar set him up a few minutes later, Rakitic reduced the gap again with an angled shot after a good run down the left by Vitolo. With the game coming to an end Sevilla looked to have earned the point they deserved when an unmarked Coke turned in Rakitic's corner, but in the third minute of injury time Messi crossed in from the by-line, and Beto could only kick the ball out as far as Alexis, who poked it back in to the net.
Barcelona now have to share top spot with Atlético Madrid, who are level with Tata Martino's side on points, goal difference and goals scored after beating Almería 4-2 in the first game of the evening. David Villa put the locals ahead with a first time volley after Trujillo could only head a long cross in to his path, and Diego Costa and Giménez both went close before Costa got the second from the penalty spot after Pellerano tripped Filipe Luis inside the area. With four minutes to go to the break Rodri pulled one back, beating Courtois at the second attempt after his first shot was blocked, but Kiko hit the bar before Tiago made it three with a shot on the turn following a clever set-piece free kick from Gabi midway through the second half. Three minutes later Juanfran laid the ball across for Raúl García to fire in an angled shot which Koke deflected in to the net, and Adrián, Tiago and Giménez could all have added to the lead before Aleix Vidal picked up a Verza assist to score a second for the visitors.
Real Madrid drop two points behind the leaders though after they were held to a 2-2 draw by a Villarreal side who also began the weekend on maximum points. The locals started strongly, Diego López having to save from Pereira and Aquino before Cani latched on to a loose ball in the area to open the scoring. López made two more top class saves from Aquino again, but Asenjo had to keep out Ramos and Ronaldo headed a good chance wide before Carvajal crossed in for record signing Gareth Bale to open his account from close to goal. Early in the second half Jaume Costa missed the easiest of chances, but Ronaldo gave the visitors the lead after Asenjo could only push out Benzema's shot, his follow up coming back off a defender and hitting him on the leg before bouncing back in to the net. With twenty minutes to go however Giovani made it all square once again after López made another good save from Cani, and both keepers had work to do before the referee finally called it a day.
Elsewhere Real Sociedad drew 0-0 at Levante, both sides ending the day in mid-table on five points from their first four games. The Basque team can be forgiven for having their thoughts focused on Tuesday night's Champions League game against Shakhtar, but neither team created any real chances in a dull first half. The introduction of Babá Diawara at the break livened things up though, the ex Sevilla striker having three or four efforts saved by Claudio Bravo before having to leave the field with an injury. Real's best chances were a couple of efforts late on by Carlos Vela and Xabi Prieto which Keylor Navas kept out, and in the end both coaches settled for a point. (14.09.13)