Sporting Gijón stay down in the bottom three after they were beaten 1-2 by Getafe on Monday evening. The Asturians started well, Guerrero bringing a good save out of Guaita before setting up Sanabria to score the opener with a quarter of an hour gone. Bernardo and Guerrero went close before the interval, but some ten minutes into the second half the visitors were awarded a penalty when Jorge Meré pushed over Scepovic in the area. Pedro León fired the spot kick against the post, but a quarter of an hour later the unmarked Cala turned Sanabria’s free kick past Cuéllar from close to goal, and less than two minutes later Sanabria latched on to a Scepovic through ball to give Fran Escribá’s team their first away win of the season.
The big news on Monday though was the firing of Rafa Benítez by Real Madrid after only six months in charge. B team coach Zinedine Zidane will be his replacement at the Bernabeu stadium. (04.01.16)
Real Madrid missed out on a chance to close up on arch-rivals Barcelona after they were held to a 2-2 draw at Valencia in the last match on Sunday night. Benzema combined with Bale and Ronaldo to open the scoring on the quarter hour mark, and the visitors had two penalty appeals turned down, the first for a possible hand ball by Abdennour, and the second after Bale was tripped by Orbán. Navas had to save from Alcácer and Cancelo though, and with the first half coming to a close the referee awarded a penalty to the home side after Pepe brought down André Gomes, Dani Parejo converting the resulting spot kick. Bale and Ronaldo went close after the restart, and Navas had to fist away a long shot from Gomes, but midway through the second half Madrid were left with ten men when Kovacic was sent off for a hard tackle on Cancelo. Bale still restored the lead for them though with an angled header from a wide Kroos free kick, but just a minute later Paco Alcácer levelled the scores once again, the striker steering a header past Navas after Rodrigo headed back De Paul’s cross. That set up a frenetic finish, Navas saving from Negredo when free on goal, and Bale blasting a shot wide of the target at the other end. Not the result either coach wanted, Benítez in trouble after dropping four points behind leaders Atlético, and Gary Neville yet to record a win in five games, but a draw was probably a fair scoreline in the end.
Madrid are now just a point above fourth placed Villarreal after Marcelino’s team beat Deportivo 1-2 earlier in the evening. Only a couple of efforts by Lucas Pérez, Luis Alberto and Bakambu troubled either keeper early on, but with ten minutes to go to the break Bruno put the visitors ahead with a low shot past Lux after Mario passed in following a corner. The local keeper had to save from Soldado before the break, but just three minutes into the second half Luis Alberto got on the end of a Pérez cross to make it all square. Pérez curled a shot just wide after that and Denis Suárez shot straight at Lux following a good run, but the match appeared to be heading for a draw until the fourth minute of injury time, when Fernando Navarro bundled over Samuel García inside the area. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, and Bruno fired home the kick to take his side nine points clear of their hosts in the table.
The Galicians drop to seventh, a point behind Athletic Bilbao, who were held to a 2-2 by Las Palmas in the San Mamés stadium. Aduríz put the Basque side in front from the penalty spot with a quarter of an hour gone after David García blocked Susaeta’s shot with his arm, and Etxeita headed a corner against the upright a few minutes later. Etxeita had to clear from Araujo though before the interval, and some seventeen minutes in to the second half Vicente Gómez latched on to a loose ball in the area to equalize, firing a shot on the turn under Iraizoz. Just four minutes later Willaims won the ball outside of the area and ran on to restore the lead, but with ten minutes to go Tana saved a much needed point for the Canary Islanders with a volley which bounced past the local keeper into the net.
Eibar meanwhile move up level on points with Depor after a 0-4 victory at Betis. The Basque side went two up with less than twenty minutes gone, Capa combining with Keko to fire in a shot which looped off Petros into the net, and Keko beating Adán with a first time volley after Sergi Enrich laid the ball across from right of the area. Riesgo had to save from Rubén Castro, and Cejudo shot just wide either side of half time, but with twenty minutes to go Adrián González connected with Capa’s centre to score his side’s third. With the rain falling Riesgo had to be at his best to keep out a Molina header, but soon afterwards Borja Bastón completed the scoring with an impressive shot from outside of the area. By then many of the local fans had gone, but those who stayed chanted for coach Pepe Mel to go, his team having only picked up six points at home all season.
Eibar jump ahead of Sevilla, who were beaten 2-1 by regional neighbours Granada. Youngsters Isaac Success and Peñaranda got the goals for the locals in the first half, the former on the follow up after Sergio Rico could only push out a long shot from Rochina, and the latter with a good run past four defenders before sliding a shot wide of the keeper. With the first half coming to a close however Vitolo scrambled one back after Andrés deflected a Gameiro cross to him close to goal, and the visiting keeper had to save from Reyes soon after the restart. Rubén Pérez tested Rico at the other end, but Gameiro had a strike ruled out for offside, and Andrés saved again from Banega and Reyes. With five minutes to go though Sevilla’s challenge ended when Rami was sent off for a second bookable offence, and they have yet to win away from home this season. The result though takes Granada out of the relegation zone, two points above Rayo Vallecano and Sporting Gijón.
Rayo Vallecano themselves drew 2-2 against Real Sociedad in this Sunday’s mid-day game, thereby ending a run of five defeats in a row. Llorente headed the opener from a Trashorras corner with just over a quarter of an hour on the clock, and Rulli had to be on his toes to keep out a Trashorras free kick soon afterwards. A few minutes later Aritz Elustondo levelled the scores with a header from a long Rubén Pardo free kick, but six minutes in to the second half Jozabed put Rayo back in front following a quick breakaway. Their joy only lasted a few minutes though before Bruma equalized again with a first time volley from a Pardo corner, and although Rulli had to save from Bebé and Baena after that, the Basque side held on for a result which keeps them two points above their hosts in the table. (03.01.16)
A change of leader to start off the new year, Atlético Madrid moving to the top of the table after a 1-0 victory over Levante on Saturday evening. Simeone’s side were on top for most of the match, Jackson Martínez bringing an early save out of Diego Mariño, and Savic heading a corner against the crossbar soon afterwards. Verza did fire a shot just wide before the break, but Martínez went close with a header, and Koke rattled the bar again with a volley from the edge of the area. A few minutes later a Vietto cross also bounced off the bar, but it was not until ten minutes from the end that substitute Thomas battled through a packed defence to force home the winner, Mariño getting a hand to his shot but unable to prevent the ball from rolling into the net. A brave performance from the visitors, but the defeat leaves them still three points adrift at the foot of the table.
Barcelona drop to second though (albeit with a game in hand) after they could only draw 0-0 at city neighbours Espanyol earlier in the evening. It was a physical match, particularly in the first half when there were clashes between the players, and chances were few and far between in what was a tense local derby. Piqué had to clear a corner off the goal-line midway through the first half, and Messi curled a free kick against the crossbar shortly before the break. After the restart Hernán Pérez fired an angled shot just wide, but otherwise the visitors had the better chances, Luis Suárez turning a shot against the upright, and Pau López having to save from Messi and Neymar. The home side held on for a valuable point though, and the fans and the new Chinese owners who were in the stands watching celebrated as if they had won the title. The two teams have to meet twice again in the cup over the next ten days though, and hopefully tempers will have calmed down by then.
Celta meanwhile lost ground on the teams above them after they were beaten 2-0 at Málaga in the last match of the evening, and they stay down in fifth spot as a result. Berizzo gave a run out to young keeper Rubén Blanco, but he was at fault when Charles connected with a Rosales cross to head the opener in the eighth minute. Aspas and Orellana went close at the other end, but midway through the first half Albentosa got on the end of a Juanpi corner to head in the second. Either side of half time Wass hit the crossbar and Orellana brought a good save out of Kameni, but some twenty minutes into the second half Rubén got himself sent off after bringing down Amrabat inside the area. Substitute keeper Sergio Alvarez saved Amrabat’s weak spot kick, but Albentosa, Fornals and Camacho all wasted chances after that to add to the scoreline. (02.01.16)