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Match round-up - First Division, Day 32

Elche distanced themselves from the danger zone thanks to a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad on Monday evening, their second win in a row taking them six points clear of the relegation spots. Jonathas scored what was to prove the only goal of the game in the twentieth minute, charging down an attempted clearance by Bergara after the midfielder had been tackled by Mosquera. David Moyes had lined up without a recognized striker, and only a couple of efforts by Xabi Prieto caused any problems for Tyton and his defence before the break. Aarán Ñíguez and Pasalic went close with long shots after the restart, and Fajr put Rulli to the test with a long free kick. But even with Agirretxe and Carlos Vela on the park the Basque side were never really a threat, and they end the weekend in mid-table, with little left to play for until the end of the season. (20.04.15)

Sevilla missed out on a chance to catch fourth placed Valencia after they were held to a 1-1 draw by neighbours Granada on Sunday evening. The locals needed points though to escape the drop zone, and with a quarter of an hour on the clock Mainz headed them into the lead from a Candeias corner. Rubén Pérez fired a shot just wide soon afterwards and Digo almost turned a Robert Ibáñez cross into his own net, but the visitors came back later in the first half, with Bacca going close a couple of times. After the interval Sergio Rico had to keep out Candeias, but Banega drove a shot just wide, and with twenty minutes to go Mainz turned an Aleix Vidal centre past his own keeper trying to clear. Substitute Gameiro brought a good save out of Roberto and then turned another good chance just wide of the post, but Abel Resino’s side held on for a valuable point which maintains their hopes of salvation.

Sixth placed Villarreal also faltered though, Marcelino’s side only able to draw 0-0 at home to bottom club Córdoba, their sixth game in a row without a win. It was not for lack of trying however, Joel Campbell and Gerard Moreno both firing shots against the crossbar in the first half. Edimar, Florin and Bebé all tested Asenjo at the other end though, and after the break Florin headed an Edimar cross just wide of the post. However visiting keeper Juan Carlos made a string of saves after that, in particular from Cheryshev, Campbell, Vietto and Víctor Ruíz, and Vietto felt himself unlucky not to be given a penalty when he fell under a challenge from Crespo near the end. An eleventh draw of the season for Córdoba, although they end the weekend eight points away from safety, and are already looking odds-on for relegation.

Celta are one of several sides who are still vying for seventh spot (which may or may not give access to the Europa League depending on who wins the cup final), and they moved to within four points of current incumbents Málaga thanks to a 0-1 victory at Eibar. Larrivey fired an early shot over the bar and Krohn-Dehli brought a good save out of Irureta, and the Galicians thought they had been given a penalty when Larrivey fell in the area, only for the referee to eventually book the striker for diving. Arruabarrena tested Sergio Alvarez at the other end, but with five minutes to go to the break the visitors were given a spot kick after Didac brought down Santi Mina, Nolito stepping up to drill the ball home. After the interval Celta did most of the attacking, but even so Asenjo had to react quickly to keep out a wide Manu del Moral free kick, and later on Didac struck a long shot against the crossbar. Another defeat for Eibar though, and they are now only three points above the drop zone.

Rayo Vallecano are also in the running for the E-League spots, and they stay a point below Berizzo’s side after a 2-0 win against Almería in the Sunday mid-day game. Espinosa headed over early on, and Trashorras came up against Rubén before Amaya got on the end of Zé Castro’s cross to head in the opener midway through the first half. Referee Gil Manzano turned down two penalty appeals at each end either side of the break, and Thievy brought a good save out of Toño at the beginning of the second half. Rubén kept out Embarba and Manucho, and Toño tipped a header from Zongo over the bar, but with the game coming to an end Miku made sure of the three points with his team’s second after good work down the right by Kakuta. After today’s games Almería, Granada and Córdoba stay in the relegation spots, although another four teams are within three points of the drop zone. (19.04.15)

No change at the top this week as the three leading teams all won. Barcelona had a tricky game against fourth placed Valencia to start off the Saturday programme, but goals in the first and last minutes of the match gave them a 2-0 victory in the end. Luis Suárez opened the scoring after Messi set him up on a rapid breakaway right at the start, but for the rest of the first half the visitors were on top, Rodrigo firing a shot just wide just a couple of minutes after the goal. With ten minutes gone Bravo had to save a Dani Parejo penalty after Piqué brought down Rodrigo in the area, and a few minutes later Paco Alcácer went close before the Spanish international striker turned a shot against the foot of the post. Messi drilled a shot past the upright shortly before the break though, and then curled a free kick against the crossbar soon after the restart. Bravo saved from Rodrigo and Diego Alves kept out Pedro as the game swung from end to end, but in the fourth minute of injury rime Neymar played the ball through for Messi to run on unmarked from inside his own half and beat Alves at the second attempt, taking his all-time tally for the club to 400 goals.

Real Madrid meanwhile stay two points behind the leaders after they beat Málaga 3-1 later in the evening. Casillas had to push an early shot from Amrabat over the bar, but Kameni had to be at his best to save a Chicharito header, and midway through the first half Sergio Ramos got behind the defence to turn a wide Ronaldo free kick into the net, the referee waving away appeals for a possible offside. James brought another good save out of Kameni soon afterwards, but Darder missed a sitter and Amrabat fired an angled shot just wide either side of half time. With just over an hour gone Madrid were awarded a penalty after Samu Castillejo brought down James in the area, and although Ronaldo fired the spot kick against the upright, James worked a quick passing move with Isco and Ronaldo to make it two just a couple of minutes later. Juanmi headed one back however from a Rosales cross two minutes after that, and the visitors came close to an equalizer before Ronaldo got on the end of an injury time Chicharito cross to wrap things up with his 50 th goal of the season. There was bad news for Ancelotti though, Bale and Modric both picking up injuries which could well keep them out of Wednesday night’s Champions League tie against Atlético Madrid.

Atlético themselves took advantage of Valencia’s defeat to open the gap on their rivals to four points following a 1-2 victory at Deportivo. Once again Griezmann was the match winner for the Colchoneros, the French international striker opening the scoring in the fifth minute with a hook-shot past Fabricio after Giménez headed the ball over. A quarter of an hour later Griezmann got his second of the evening with a shot on the turn after Sidnei could only head back a long Jesús Gámez throw-in, and Koke tested the local keeper with another long shot a few minutes before the break. Soon afterwards Simeone got himself sent off for arguing with the officials, but his team continued to dominate, Fabricio having to make saves from Raúl García, Saúl Ñíguez, Raúl Jiménez and Fernando Torres, and Jiménez seeing a defender clear another effort off the line. However Depor came back later on, Oriol Riera heading in a Sidnei cross with a quarter of an hour to go, and Lopo heading another chance just wide near the end.

Elsewhere Athletic Bilbao are back up to eighth after a 4-0 win over Getafe in the last match on Saturday evening. The Basque side were on top throughout the first half, with San José, Aduríz and Ibai Gómez all going close. However they were unable to beat Guaita until a minute before half time, Aduríz converting a dubious penalty after Velázquez was sent off for bringing down Viguera on the edge of (maybe outside?) the area. Just a minute after the restart though Aduríz ran on to Iraola’s through ball to make it two, and only a couple of good stops from Guaita prevented the striker from completing his hat-trick. Iraizoz was not troubled in the local goal until he had to keep out a Babá header later on, but soon afterwards Ibai got on the end of Susaeta’s cross to loop a header past the visiting keeper for the third, and with the game coming to a close Susaeta himself completed the scoring after young substitute Aketxe set him up. (18.04.15)

Levante and Espanyol drew 2-2 in this week’s Friday night game, a result which takes the locals out of the bottom three pending the rest of the weekend fixtures, and leaves the visitors still four points behind seventh placed Málaga. The Catalans went ahead twice in the first half, Lucas Vázquez opening the scoring in the eighteenth minute after Diego Mariño could only push out a shot from Víctor Sánchez. Simao headed the equalzer from an El-Zhar corner just three minutes later, but Caicedo restored the lead against his old club on the stroke of half time after latching on to a through ball from Víctor Alvarez. Both teams had chances after the restart, Morales shooting wide and Barral hitting the bar for the Valencia based side, and Víctor Alvarez and Stuani bringing good stops out of Mariño. However with three minutes to go Kalu Uche headed a long ball from Juanfran across the area for Víctor Casadesús to steer a shot past Casilla and save a much needed point for his team. (17.04.15)