Fourth placed Valencia were held to a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening, and the Ches end the midweek round of games three points behind Atlético and only a point above Sevilla. There were few chances in a tense first half, Iraizoz spilling a long shot from Alcácer and Williams hitting the side netting at the other end following a corner. A few minutes in to the second half however Diego Alves had to save a header from Etxeita, and Otamendi cleared another header from Aduríz off the line with the keeper beaten. But with an hour on the clock De Paul opened the scoring for Nuno’s side after Alcácer stepped over Rodrigo’s pass, and only a couple of good saves by Iraizoz prevented Rodrigo from adding to the lead. With eight minutes to go though Otamendi was sent off by referee Fernando Teixeira Vitienes for a high tackle on San José, and in the last minute of the match Aduríz levelled the scores after Mustafi deflected a shot by Viguera onto the post, Texeira waving away claims by the visitors for offside.
Villarreal stay sixth, although they are now eleven points below Sevilla after a 0-3 defeat against Espanyol later in the evening. Both teams came into the match with poor recent records, the locals having gone five games without a win and the visitors four, but the first chance fell to the Catalans, Sergio Asenjo having to keep out a header from Víctor Alvarez. Midway through the first half the visitors took the lead after a wide Lucas Vázquez free kick came back off the bar, Javi López’s header back into the area hitting Caicedo and deflecting in to the net. Trigueros tried his luck at the other end a couple of times after the interval, but with just over twenty minutes to go Caicedo got his second of the night after picking up a pass from Sergio García before squeezing a shot inside Asenjo’s near post. Ten minutes later Víctor Sánchez got the third after the keeper could only push an Alvarez cross into his path, and at that point most of the local fans decided it was time to leave.
The Catalans are just about safe for another season, and Getafe are also looking good for another year in the top flight after they beat Elche 0-1. The locals needed a win to move clear of the danger zone, and they had the better of the first half, with Guaita turning an early shot from Fajr round the post, and Jonathas and Pasalic going close. Fajr saw his volley deflect off Alexis and hit the bar soon afterwards, and after the interval Guaita had to tip a looping header from Cristian Herrera over the top. The visitors had only troubled Tyton with a shot from Hinestroza on a quick breakaway before the break, but with six minutes to go Hinestroza got on the end of Pedro León’s corner to steer a header inside the near post. Elche three everything forward after that, but Pedro León could have increased the lead had he been able to beat Tyton when free on goal twice in the dying minutes. (09.04.15)
Barcelona stay four points clear at the top of the table after a comfortable 4-0 victory over Almería on Wednesday evening. Sergi Barjuan was in charge of the visitors for the first time after Juan Ignacio Martínez was fired earlier in the week, and his team held their own early on, with Wellington Silva firing a shot wide. Messi and Xavi put Julián to the test at the other end though, and with just over half an hour on the clock Messi cut in from the right wing to curl a shot wide of the keeper. After the restart Luis Suárez made it two with another shot from the right of the area, and Rakitic and Pedro brought good saves out of Julián before Marc Bartra netted a third with a header from Xavi’s corner. Messi and Thomas both had strikes ruled out for previous fouls after that, but with the game in injury time Luis Suárez completed the scoring after Pedro set him up on a quick breakaway.
Real Madrid kept pace with the leaders though after they beat Rayo Vallecano 0-2 later in the evening. Paco Jémez’s side were not to be daunted by their bigger neighbours though, Embarba shooting wide early on and Bueno, Manucho and Trashorras bringing good saves out of Casillas before the break. Bale had a strike ruled out for offside midway through the first half, and headed wide soon after the restart, and Cristiano Ronaldo had a penalty appeal turned down after Amaya brought him down in the area, the referee surprisingly booking the striker for diving. Benzema, Marcelo, Bale and James all fired shots wide after that however as Madrid took control, and midway through the second half Ronaldo opened the scoring with a diving header from Carvajal’s cross. Some six minutes later James made it two after picking up a pass from Ronaldo, and it was all over.
The other two games on Wednesday finished all square, Deportivo saving a late 1-1 draw against bottom club Córdoba, who picked up their first point in eleven games. The Galicians started well, Juan Carlos having to save from Fariña and Cuenca shooting over the top in the first five minutes. Andone Florin had a strike ruled out for offside and Borja García came up against Fabricio at the other end a few minutes later though, and Toché also got the ball in the net only to pulled up as well for offside. Soon after the interval Fede tested Fabricio, and a a couple of minutes later Andone opened the scoring for the visitors after controlling a long cross from Edimar. When Luisinho was sent off for a second bookable offence with a quarter of the game to go it seemed that the Andalusians were on for a win, but with just three minutes left Andone chested a corner into his own net trying to clear. It was not enough though to save local coach Víctor Fernández, who was fired soon after the final whistle.
Granada meanwhile stay in the relegation zone after they too drew 1-1 against Celta. The Andalusians took the lead in only the third minute, Robert Ibáñez connecting with Piti’s cross and beating Sergio Alvarez at the second attempt after his first shot was blocked by Jonny. Santi Mina fired a shot over the bar in reply, but Javi Márquez went close a couple of times later on in the first half, the second a free kick just over the bar. With a couple of minutes to go to the break though Murillo was sent off for a second bookable offence, and the visitors pushed forward, with Cabral, Larrivey and Nolito all shooting wide. However with the local fans celebrating what would have been a much needed win, Larrivey and Charles headed on a long free kick for Bongonda to score an injury time equalizer. (08.04.15)
A mid-week round of league games this week, with Atlético Madrid consolidating third spot after a 2-0 victory over Real Sociedad. Simeone’s side got off to the best possible start, Arda Turan hitting the post in the first minute, and Mikel González heading Koke’s corner into his own net just a minute later. And with only ten minutes gone Griezmann made it two against his old team, beating Rulli on the follow up after the keeper could only push out a long shot from Koke. David Moyes had lined up without an orthodox striker, Chory Castro leading the attack and bringing a good save out of Oblak later in the first half. Gámez tested Rulli again with a low volley, and Koke hit the bar with a long shot before the break, and after the restart Mario Suárez and Raúl Jiménez both went close. Oblak had to be on his toes to keep out a Granero free kick later on, but even with Agirretxe and Finnbogason on the park there was no way that Atleti were going to let this one slip.
Later in the evening fifth placed Sevilla won 1-2 at Levante to move level on points with Valencia pending their game on Thursday. The Andalusians went ahead early on, Gameiro latching on to a Reyes through ball to fire an angled shot in off the far post. El-Zhar brought a good save out Sergio Rico, but soon afterwards Reyes made it two after connecting with a long cross from Gameiro. Nico Pareja rattled the crossbar with a well struck free kick before the interval, but the locals rallied in the second half, Rico having to save again from Kalu Uche, El-Zhar and José Marí. With just under twenty minutes to go Uche got one back with a header from Rubén’s cross which hit the post and bounced over the line, but that was the end of their challenge, and in the final minutes Mariño had to save from Iborra, and Bacca fired a shot against the bar.
Eibar finally put a stop to their recent run of bad form, the Basque side beating Málaga 1-0 for their first win in twelve matches. The visitors had the better chances early on, Horta and Recio in particular firing long shots just wide of the target. However later in the first half Arruabarrena had a goal disallowed for a more than dubious offside and Kameni had to tip a dangerous Javi Lara free kick over the crossbar, and seven minutes after the interval Arruabarrena got behind the defence to head the opener from Lara’s corner. Irureta had to be at his best after that to save a Javi Guerra header and a long shot from Boka, but Capa could have increased the lead had Kameni not kept him out near the end. (07.04.15)