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Match round-up - First Division, Day 17

Córdoba finally clocked up their first home win of the season, Djukic’s side beating Granada 2-0 on Monday night to move above their neighbours to within a point of safety. Both goals came in the first half, Ghilas firing a shot wide before connecting with Ekeng’s pass to open the scoring with a quarter of an hour gone, and league debutant Andone Florin adding the second following a Fede Cartabia assist on the stroke of half time. The visitors didn’t have a real shot on target until Piti tested Juan Carlos early on in the second half, and they only came close after that with a long effort wide of the mark by Javi Márquez. Although they knocked their opponents out of the cup recently, Joaquín Caparrós’s side have not won now in thirteen league games, and the coach needs to turn things around quickly if he is to stay in his job. (05.01.15)

Real Madrid’s record run of 22 wins in a row in all competitions came to an end when they were beaten 2-1 by Valencia on Sunday afternoon. That run included the victory in last month’s Club World Cup, and the home players upheld tradition by applauding the new world champions on to the pitch. The hospitality ended there though, and by half time there were seven yellow cards in what was at times a physical match. Ronaldo put Ancelotti’s side ahead from the penalty spot with a quarter of an hour gone after Negredo handled in the area, and he came close to a second soon afterwards when he got round the keeper only to turn a shot into the side netting. Although the locals had the better of the early play, Casillas was not really tested until he had to save a long effort by Andrés Gomes shortly before the break. However a minute or so later Carvajal deflected another shot by the midfielder against the upright, and the keeper had to react quickly to get a hand to Alcácer’s follow up. Some seven minutes in to the second half Barragán levelled it however with an angled shot which deflected in off Pepe. And although Ramos and Bale both went close, Otamendi headed what was to prove the winner from a Dani Parejo corner a few minutes later, a goal which takes the Ches back up to fourth in the table.

Madrid stay top though (with a game still in hand) after second placed Barcelona lost 1-0 at Real Sociedad in the last match of the evening. Luis Enrique controversially left Messi and Neymar on the bench at the start, but the move backfired when Jordi Alba headed a Canales cross in to his own net in only the second minute. Xavi fired a free kick over the top and Pedro also shot wide, and Iñigo Martínez was let off a penalty appeal when the ball hit him on the arm, but only a good save by ex Real keeper Bravo prevented Canales from adding a second shortly before the break, and Luis Enrique turned to Messi at the interval and Neymar soon afterwards. Rulli and a packed defence kept the Catalans at bay after that though, the keeper in particular making two great stops from Luis Suárez, and although Neymar cheekily won the ball off him to score in injury time, the referee disallowed the goal and booked the striker. Once again Barça had failed in Anoeta (their recent league record is one draw and five defeats), and with Atlético winning the day before, only one point now separates the top three. A great result however for David Moyes, and his team move five points clear of the relegation spots pending the Monday night game.

Eibar are without doubt the revelation side this season, the Basques beginning the new year in eighth place after a 1-2 victory at Espanyol. Both teams started level on points, and honours were shared early on, with Arbilla and Manu del Moral firing long shots wide. However with ten minutes to go to the break del Moral opened the scoring for the visitors after Saúl Berjón laid the ball back from the by-line, and just three minutes later Bóveda made it two with a long bouncing header from Berjón’s corner, Piovaccari’s attempted (and completely failed) overhead kick from close to goal putting off local keeper Casilla. Eibar had a third strike disallowed early on in the second half when del Moral was ruled offside, but Irureta had to make a fingertip save from Arbilla’s long shot soon afterwards, and Caicedo looped a header on to the crossbar as the locals looked to get back in the game. With ten minutes to go Caicedo did get one back with a header from Arbilla’s long free kick, and Sergio García could have saved a point had he not headed straight at the keeper when free on goal near the end.

Rayo Vallecano move up level with Espanyol in mid-table after they came from behind to beat Getafe 1-2 in the mid-day South Madrid derby. Alvaro Vázquez gave the home side the lead in only the third minute with a well struck free kick, and soon afterwards a cross from Diego Costa bounced off the crossbar. Alex Moreno brought a couple of good saves out of Guaita though and then crossed in for Baptistao to head over, and with three minutes to go to the break the keeper could only punch out a cross from the left wing, and Jozabed was on hand to turn the ball back in to the net. That got Rayo back in the game, and Kakuta hit the post after the interval before Raúl Baena got on the end of Kakuta’s headed pass to make it two. Vázquez did have a chance to level it near the end when Toño gifted him the ball, but the keeper reacted quickly to smother the threat. Bragging rights to the visitors, and Cosmin Contra (who has accepted a big money offer from China’s Guangzhou) ends his time at the club with a cruel defeat against the old enemy. (04.01.15)

La Liga returned after the two week winter break, Atlético Madrid opening the new year with a 3-1 victory over Levante. Curiously it was Griezmann, scorer of the last goal in 2014, who also got the first in 2015, steering a header over Diego Mariño from Siqueira’s cross with just under twenty minutes gone. Arda Turan fired a couple of shots wide and Mariño had to stop Vyntra from putting through his own net later in the first half, and just two minutes after the restart Griezmann headed in the second after Vyntra tried to clear a header by Mandzukic which came back off the post. Mandukic and Tiago went close after that, but with an hour on the clock Mandzukic cleared a Casadesús header off the line, and Iván López drilled the rebound back in to the box for El Zhar to deflect the ball past Moyà. Casadesús and López tried their luck in the next few minutes as Lucas Alcaráz threw on more fire power, and there were some nervous moments for the home fans before Godín made it three, again with a header from Tiago’s cross, with eight minutes to go. The result means that Simeone’s side move level with Barcelona and just a point behind Real Madrid pending their games on Sunday.

Sevilla are back up to fourth with a game still in hand after a 1-0 victory over Celta later in the evening. The visitors had lost their last five league games and had not scored in six, but they had the better of the opening minutes, Santi Mina bringing an early save out of Beto and Charles wasting a couple of good chances. Denis Suárez had tested Sergio Alvarez at the other end though, and with twenty minutes gone Planas was shown a rigorous red card when he brought down the on-loan Barcelona midfielder as he broke free following a Celta attack. Some ten minutes later the locals took the lead, Nico Pareja curling a free kick into the far top corner of the net, but after the interval the Galicians continued to dominate, Santi Mina lobbing a shot onto the crossbar, Beto turning a Pablo Hernández free kick round the post and Hugo Mallo firing a shot wide. Gradually though they ran out of steam, and Reyes came close to a second when he hit the bar late on. Sevilla are still the only top flight side not to lose at home in the league this season, but neither Emery nor the home fans were too happy with their performance.

A couple of hours later Villarreal had a chance to move back above Sevilla and in to the Champions League spots, but in the end they stay sixth after they could only draw 2-2 at regional neighbours Elche. All the goals came in an exciting first half, Cheryshev and Moi Gómez combining to set up Vietto to open the scoring and Uche putting the visitors two up after Tyton could only block a shot by Mario with less than twenty minutes gone. Pasalic had already brought a good save out of Sergio Asenjo with a well struck free kick though, and the keeper had to be at his best to stop Adrián before Jonathas got on the end of a Rodrigues cross to volley a first time shot into the roof of the net. Soon afterwards Lombán had to clear off the line from Vietto with the keeper beaten, but with ten minutes to go to the break Jonathas laid the ball back for Víctor Rodríguez to drill a shot wide of Asenjo. Vietto and Jonathan Dos Santos both had chances for the visitors after the break, but the pace died down, and in the end both teams settled for a point which leaves the host still at the bottom of the table.

Seventh placed Málaga failed to take advantage however after they were beaten 1-2 by regional rivals Almería, a second win in a row for new coach Juan Ignacio Martínez. The visitors started well, Edgar having a penalty appeal turned down and then crossing in for Hemed to turn a soft shot at Kameni. Julián had to save a Darder free kick at the other end, but with six minutes to go to the break the local defence failed to clear a Verza free kick, and the ball fell kindly for Hemed to turn a shot in to the net. Julián did well to save from Samuel a couple of minutes later, but Kameni had to keep out a Corona free kick after the restart, and the visitors had another penalty claim turned down when Antunes appeared to control the ball with his arm in the area. With seventeen minutes to go however Samuel levelled it for the home side with an angled volley after Trujillo could only head an Antunes cross over to him. But just three minutes later Hemed fell under a challenge in the area, the Israeli striker converting the resulting penalty, and his team held on despite having Michel Macedo sent off for a second bookable offence in injury time.

Almería are now four points clear of the drop zone, as are Deportivo after they beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0. Toché got the ball in the net early on for the Galicians after a long run, only to be pulled up for a borderline offside, and José Rodríguez fired a shot over the top soon afterwards. Viguera missed a couple of chances at the other end when free in front of goal, but midway through the first half Cavaleiro gave the locals the lead, his first touch from a lofted pass by Alex Bergantiños taking him round Iraizoz to score. After the interval the visitors had the better of the play, Fabricio saving from Viguera and Balenziaga, and De Marcos and young substitute Iñaki Williams heading wide. Iraizoz had to keep out Postiga late on though, and in the end it was another defeat which left the Basque side in mid-table, having only taken one point from their last four matches. (03.01.15)