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Match round-up - First Division, Day 33

Valencia returned to fourth spot after a comfortable 4-0 win over struggling Granada in the Monday night match. André Gomes and Dani Parejo went close before Javi Fuego headed the opener from Parejo’s corner midway through the first half. And Parejo added the second from the penalty spot after Mainz brought down Barragán shortly before the interval. The closest the visitors came to the local goal was a long free kick over the top from Piti, and Roberto had to save from Rodrigo before Feghouli made it three after De Paul and Negredo combined to set him up. And Negredo headed the fourth from De Paul’s cross with two minutes to go to take his back above Sevilla in the table. Granada end the day though in next to bottom place, four points away from safety having only picked up three draws in their last seven games. (27.04.15)

Real Madrid stay two points behind Barcelona after a 2-4 victory at Celta in the last match on Sunday evening. Nolito cut in past two defenders to give the locals an early lead, but with just over a quarter of an hour gone Kroos equalized after Santi Mina could only clear a Ronaldo cross into his path, and eight minutes later Chicharito made it two after a quick passing move with James. Mina levelled it again soon afterwards, running on to Orellana’s through ball and beating Casillas at the second attempt after his first shot came back off the post, but Ronaldo hit the post before setting up James to restore the lead shortly before half time, his shot taking a deflection off Fontàs to wrong-foot Sergio Alvarez. Celta felt they should have had a couple of penalties after the restart, in particular when Kroos brought down Orellana. However midway through the second half Chicharito rounded off an excellent week, the Mexican striker picking up a Sergio Ramos pass and running on to score his third goal in five days.

Earlier in the evening Sevilla beat Rayo Vallecano 2-0 to move above fourth placed Valencia pending their game on Monday. Sergio Rico was back in the line-up after Beto’s disastrous performance in the Europa League midweek, and he had to keep out Kakuta early on. Soon afterwards though Iborra opened the scoring after Diego Figueiras laid the ball across from the right, and Toño had to make a couple of saves from Thursday night’s saviour Gameiro before Carriço got on the end of a Denis Suárez chipped cross to head home the second. Rayo felt themselves unlucky when Krychowiak put the ball through his own net only for the referee to rule Abdoulaye offside in the build up, and Trashorras and Pozuelo went close a few minutes later. Reyes, Suárez and Deulofeu tested Toño in reply, and Rico had to tip a deflected Manucho shot over the bar in the dying minutes, but in the end a comfortable win for the Andalusians, the only team to remain unbeaten at home this season.

Málaga stay seventh for another week despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Deportivo in this Sunday’s mid-day game. Both teams had been on poor form recently, the Andalusians not having won in five games and their opponents in ten, but there were plenty of chances in a lively match. Kameni had to be at his best to keep out Lucas Pérez a couple of times in the first half, and Juanmi turned a shot against the post at the other end. A couple of minutes in to the second half Amrabat gave the locals the lead, the striker controlling a long ball out of defence and firing in an angled shot which Fabricio couldn’t stop from entering the net. Oriol Riera headed the equalizer for the Galicians on the hour mark from a Lucas Pérez free kick, and Pérez hit the post later on with another free kick which took a deflection off a defender. Samuel had a headed goal ruled out for offside, and Fabricio did well to save from Horta and Javi Guerra, but in the end both coaches settled for a point.

Deportivo end the weekend in the bottom three however after Almería beat Eibar 2-0 a few hours later. Thievy opening the scoring for the Andalusians early on, the ex Espanyol striker picking up a pass from Hemed in midfield and running on to shoot low past Irureta from outside of the area. Rubén did well to keep out a shot from Arruabarrena a few minutes later, but either side of half time Thievy saw a shot deflected over the top and then fired another effort against the crossbar. Midway through the second half Verza converted a penalty after Didac tripped Wellington Silva on the edge of the area, and Rubén made sure of the three points with late saves from Manu del Moral and Piovaccari. Sergi Barjuan’s side move level with their opponents in the table, although they are still awaiting the outcome of their appeal against a three point deduction imposed by FIFA earlier in the season. (26.04.15)

Leaders Barcelona put the pressure back on Real Madrid with a 0-2 victory at city neighbours Espanyol on Saturday afternoon. Luis Enrique’s side got off to a good start, Casilla having to save from Luis Suárez and Neymar firing a shot over the top early on, and Neymar opening the scoring after Suárez stepped over Jordi Alba’s cross. Midway through the first half Messi made it two after Suárez and Iniesta combined to set him up, referee Mateu Lahoz waving away appeals for offside, and Neymar went close a couple of times either side of half time as Barcelona continued to dominate. Some ten minutes in to the second half though the visitors were left with ten men when Alba picked up two bookings in a row for protesting, but even so Messi hit the post and Neymar shot over the bar soon afterwards. Sergio García and Stuani finally tested Claudio Bravo later on, but with the game in injury time numbers were evened up when Héctor Moreno was also shown two yellow cards for complaining to the officials. The result takes Barça five points clear of Madrid pending their game on Sunday.

Later in the evening Atlético Madrid consolidated third spot with a 3-0 victory over Elche. Simeone’s side were looking to bounce back after their midweek Champions League defeat, and although Adrián González gave the home fans an early scare, from then on the locals were on top. Visiting keeper Tyton had to be at his best to save a couple of times from Raúl García, and Tiago, Fernando Torres and Griezmann all went close before Griezmann opened the scoring some ten minutes in to the second half, the French striker heading the ball back into the net after Tyton could only push out a shot from Koke. Soon afterwards Raúl García squeezed a long shot inside the near post, and with a quarter of an hour to go Griezmann got his second of the evening after Saúl Ñíguez set him up. Despite the defeat Fran Escribá’s side stay six points above the drop zone, although they may well be relegated anyway for financial reasons unless they can raise the funds necessary to settle their debts within the next few days.

That would mean only two other teams go down, and Levante seem to be heading towards safety after they beat Getafe 0-1 to move to within two points of Elche in the table. The locals themselves still need points though to be sure of staying up, and only a good save by Diego Mariño prevented Diego Castro from giving them the lead early on. However with ten minutes to go to the break Víctor Casadesús got on the end of a long Morales corner to loop a header back past Guaita for the opener. Juan Rodríguez headed a corner over the top and Castro shot straight at the keeper either side of half time, and substitute Hinestroza caused several problems for the Levante defence later on, but Lucas Alcaraz’s team held on for three vital points.

Meanwhile Villarreal hang on to sixth place after a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad, although after seven games without a victory they are in danger of being caught by their rivals. Marcelino’s side had the better of the first half though, Rulli having to make top class saves from Campbell, Manu Trigueros and Tomás Pina, and Pina and Jaume Costa going close. After the restart the locals came back, Granero firing a free kick just wide of the post, Sergio Asenjo having to keep out Iñigo Martínez and Chory Castro, and Canales also shooting just over the bar. With the game coming to a close though Villarreal substitute Fran Sol put a good chance wide, Víctor Ruíz had a goal disallowed as Pina was offside in the play, and Mario saw Rulli push his injury time header against the post. A bit of a miracle really that there were no goals! (25.04.15)

Athletic Bilbao are closing in on seventh spot after a 0-1 victory at bottom club Córdoba on Friday evening, the result taking them level with Málaga pending their game later this weekend. The Andalusians were desperate for points though, and they got off to a good start, Bebé hitting the crossbar with an inswinging corner, and Iraizoz having to keep out a Florin header soon afterwards. Juan Carlos saved from San José and Aduríz at the other end, but Fidel tested Iraizoz again before the break, and then turned a good chance over the bar soon after the restart. Some ten minutes into the second half though Pantic gave the ball away, and Deivid got his head in the way of Beñat’s shot only to see it deflect past his own keeper into the net. Juan Carlos kept his side in the game with first class saves from Ibai Gómez, Williams and Aduríz after that, and Krhin came close to an equalizer with a couple of headers just wide of the mark from dead-ball kicks. Another defeat for the locals though, and with five games to go they remain eight points away from safety. (24.04.15)