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Match round-up - First Division, Day 27

Real Sociedad clocked up their first away win in almost eleven months after beating Getafe 0-1 in the Monday night game. Virtually all the chances in the first half fell to the home side however, Rulli saving from Alvaro Vázquez, Pedro León, Escudero and Diego Castro, and León hitting the crossbar with a long shot. After the restart though David Moyes’ side came back, Canales testing Guaita and Chory Castro firing a shot over the top, and midway through the second half they got what was to prove the only goal, Iñigo Martínez’s header from Granero’s cross coming back off the post and going in off the local keeper. Sarabia felt he should have had a penalty and Velázquez fired a shot wide after that, but the Basques held on for a win which takes them a point above their hosts in mid-table. (16.03.15)

Real Madrid stay a point behind leaders Barcelona going in to next Sunday’s “clásico” after a 2-0 victory over Levante on Sunday evening. Ancelotti’s side were looking for their first win in four games, and the coach decided to bring in Keylor Navas for Iker Casillas, who had received a lot of stick from the local fans recently. The keeper had virtually nothing to do all night though, and Ronaldo poked a shot against the post before Bale tested Mariño for the first time. With just over a quarter of an hour gone Iván Ramís headed Ronaldo’s overhead kick off the line, and the ball came out to Bale who steered a shot back into the net. And with five minutes to go to the break Bale got his second of the evening, deflecting Ronaldo’s wayward shot past Mariño after Carvajal laid back a quick Modric free kick. After the restart Benzema volleyed a shot wide, and then hit the upright with a back-heel shot which would have been a contender for goal of the season if it had gone in. Ronaldo fired a shot at Mariño and then steered another chance wide, and Levante finally reacted with a couple of efforts wide of the mark from Barral and Víctor Casadesús. A much needed win for Madrid though, and their opponents end the weekend back down in the relegation spots once again.

Earlier in the evening fifth placed Sevilla kept up their push for a Champions League spot with a 3-0 win over Elche. Bacca opened the scoring from the penalty spot early on after Coro pushed over Reyes in the area, and Trémoulinas brought a good save out of Tyton before the Colombian striker headed a second from Coke’s cross on the half hour mark. The visitors came back though, Sergio Rico having to push a shot from Coro over the bar and then saving from Fajr and Víctor Rodríguez either side of half time, and Víctor firing a shot wide after the interval. But Tyton had to be at his best to keep out Denis Suárez a few minutes later, and with ten minutes to go Gameiro ran on to Banega’s through ball to score a third which takes the Andalusians to within four points of Atlético Madrid in the table.

Villarreal are now three points below Sevilla after they drew 0-0 at Almería in this Sunday’s mid-day game. Marcelino’s side were looking to bounce back after their midweek defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League, and Giovani went close with an early free kick. Hemed and Thievy brought saves out of Sergio Asenjo in reply, and the locals felt they should have had a penalty when the ball hit Dorado on the arm a few minutes later. With five minutes to go to the break the locals were left with ten men when Mauro Dos Santos was sent off for bringing down Giovani as he advanced on goal, but numbers were evened up some ten minutes after the restart when Jaume Costa picked up a second booking for a foul on Wellington Silva. Hemed and Pina missed easy chances after that, but in the end both coaches settled for a point.

Seventh placed Málaga are five points behind Villarreal after beating neighbours Córdoba 2-0. The locals were the better side early on, Juanmi and Rosales going close and Boka firing a long shot against the post, although the visitors could have scored immediately after that on a rapid counter-attack, Kameni coming out quickly to turn a shot from Ghilas away for a corner. Some three minutes in to the second half Juanmi opened the scoring for Xavi Gracia’s side after Samu put him through with a lofted pass, the referee waving away claims for offside. Soon afterwards Weligton cleared a shot by Krhin off the line with the keeper beaten, but Horta rattled the crossbar with a long shot, and with six minutes left on the clock Amrabat cut in from the left to wrap things up with an angled shot inside Saizar’s near post. The result leaves Djukic’s team four points adrift at the bottom of the table after an eighth defeat in a row. (15.03.15)

Barcelona moved four points clear at the top of the table pending Real Madrid’s match tomorrow after beating Eibar 0-2 on Saturday evening. With big matches against Manchester City and Real Madrid coming up, Luis Enrique made several changes for his team’s first ever visit to the Ipurúa stadium, albeit that he kept his usual “trident” up front. Rakitic had an early header blocked and Messi produced a few moments of magic, but the Basque side held fast until a shot from Messi bounced off a defender and hit Ekiza on the outstretched arm, Messi converting the resulting spot kick. Javi Lara and Saúl Berjón fired long shots wide of the mark either side of half time, but Luis Suárez went close after Rakitic set him up, and some ten minutes in to the second half Messi headed the second from Rakitic’s corner, a defender unable to clear the ball from off the line. Xavi came on for a record 750th appearance for the club, and another substitute Pedro brought a good save out of Jaime. Later on Piqué was left off a penalty appeal for hands, and Piovaccari bounced a shot onto the crossbar when free in front of goal, but it was too late to prevent an eighth defeat in a row which left Eibar down in the lower reaches of the table.

Atlético Madrid ended the day in fourth spot, a 0-0 draw at Espanyol not enough to take them back above Valencia. Despite playing for over half the match with ten men, Simeone’s side were on top throughout, and only a great display by keeper Kiko Casilla stopped them from taking the three points. The local keeper tipped an early header from Fernando Torres over the bar and saved from Gabi a few minutes later, and Koke and Griezmann both fired shots wide before the break. Just before half time though Miranda was sent off for flattening Abraham with a leading elbow, the midfielder stretchered off and taken straight to hospital with concussion. But Atleti continued to dominate, Griezmann having a strike disallowed for what the referee considered to be a previous foul in the build up, and Casilla making first class saves again from Raúl García and Arda Turan. The locals only managed a couple of weak shots at Moyà near the end, but thanks to their keeper they had a point which softened the blow of being knocked out of the cup in their last match at their Power 8 stadium.

The team who beat Espanyol in that match were Athletic Bilbao, and they are up to eighth in the table after a 1-2 victory at Celta in the last match of the evening. Alex López tested Iraizoz early on, but with just over a quarter of an hour gone Augusto Fernández pushed over Muniain in the area, and Aduríz stepped up to convert the resulting penalty. Sergio Alvarez saved from Aduríz and De Marcos fired a good chance over the top a few minutes later, and San José made it two from close to goal on the half hour mark after Aduríz headed a corner against the crossbar. Iraizoz had to be at his best though to keep out Santi Mina after the interval, and soon afterwards Nolito found Orellana with a quick free kick, the Chilean winger floating the ball across for Larrivey to head in on the far post. With five minutes to go San José was sent off for a second bookable offence, but Larrivey headed a good chance wide, and Guillermo (who had replaced the injured Aduríz) could have increased the scoreline had he not shot over the top with the goal at his mercy near the end.

Rayo Vallecano are now eleventh after they came from behind to beat struggling Granada 3-1. The visitors started well, Cristian Alvarez saving from Córdoba and Javi Márquez shooting wide before Córdoba picked up a long pass from Rochina and ran on to fire a shot through the legs of the keeper. Rayo pushed forward after that, Oier having to turn two efforts from Alberto Bueno away for corners and Zé Castro heading a wide free kick against the bar shortly before the interval. Paco Jémez eventually turned to Manucho though, and just a minute after coming on he crossed in for Bueno to equalize. Murillo was lucky to be let off a penalty appeal when he handled in the area, but soon afterwards Bueno got his second of the evening, getting a slight touch to Kakuta’s cross to steer the ball past Oier. The visiting keeper did well later on to save from Embarba, but with the game in injury time the young substitute did get his first goal in the league after Oier could only push out a shot from Manucho. (14.03.15)

Valencia are up to third pending Atlético’s game on Saturday after beating Deportivo 2-0 on Friday evening. The Ches had most of the play in the first half, with Fabricio having to save from Rodrigo and Negredo, and after the restart the visiting keeper was in action again to block a couple of headers from Negredo. With an hour on the clock though he could only parry a shot from Piatti, and Juanfran brought down the Argentinian forward as he went for the rebound. Dani Parejo drilled home the resulting spot kick, and ten minutes later substitute Paco Alcácer (who had only been on the park for a minute) got on the end of Feghouli’s cross to score the second. Diego Alves did have to save a Bergantiños header after that, but Feghouli could have added to the lead later on. A seventh home win in a row for Nuno’s side, but Depor end the day just above the drop zone having only taken one point from their last five games. (13.03.15)