Eibar carried their recent success into the second half of the season, a 5-1 victory over Granada on Monday evening keeping them in sixth spot for another week. The Basque side went two up before the break, Inui connecting with Keko’s cross to open the scoring, and Sergio Enrich taking advantage of another Keko assist to add a second just three minutes later. Riesgo had to save from Success after the interval, and some twenty minutes into the second half El-Arabi pulled one back after Peñaranda set him up. But just three minutes later Enrich combined with Borja Bastón to restore the two goal cushion, and Borja himself added two more, the first after Keko’s shot from a wide angle came back off the post, and the second after Enrich crossed in from the right wing, to give the locals their fourth win in a row. (18.01.16)
No change at the top of the table after the big three all won on Sunday, Atlético Madrid staying in first place after they beat Las Palmas 0-3. Oblak did have to save from El Zhar, Tana and Dani Castellano early on though, but with just under twenty minutes gone Filipe Luis collected a cross from Juanfran to open the scoring. Roque fired a shot just wide of the mark soon after the restart, but Griezmann brought a good save out of Javi Varas before connecting with Koke’s pass to make it two midway through the second half, and with the game coming to an end the two combined again for the French striker to score his second of the evening.
Barcelona remain two points behind Simeone’s side after thrashing Athletic Bilbao 6-0. Messi got the opener from the penalty spot after Iraizoz was sent off for bringing down Luis Suárez with less than five minutes gone, and Neymar made it two after Suárez set him up with half an hour gone. Messi went close a couple of times before the break, and just two minutes into the second half Neymar and Suárez worked a quick passing move which ended with the Uruguayan striker beating Herrerín for a third time. Eraso did chip a shot over the bar for the visitors a few minutes later, but Rakitic got the fourth following a good run by Neymar, and Suárez added two more from Turan and Busquets assists to complete his hat-trick. A poor result for Valverde’s side, but they will be hoping to do better when the two teams meet again in the cup midweek.
Earlier in the afternoon Real Madrid consolidated third spot with a 5-1 victory over Sporting Gijón, the result keeping them two points below Barcelona. Zidane’s side went four up in less than twenty minutes, Bale starting things off with a header from a Kroos corner, and Ronaldo making it two with an impressive shot on the turn. Seen afterwards Benzema scored the third with an acrobatic scissors kick, and Ronaldo got on the end of a Dani Carvajal cross to make it four. Later in the first half Benzema saw another shot deflected over the bar, and Cuéllar had to save from Pepe, and with four minutes to go to the break Benzema picked up Isco's pass to score his second of the game. With the points in the bag Madrid relaxed after the break, and Isma López got one back on the hour mark. A second five goal haul for the new coach, although he will not be happy that he lost Bale and Benzema to injuries later on.
Valencia though find themselves further away from the European spots after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Rayo Vallecano in this Sunday’s mid-day game. The locals totally dominated the first half, Nacho volleying over and Miku heading against the bar before Jozabed opened the scoring on the quarter hour mark. Mat Ryan had to save from Pablo Hernández, Miku and Trashorras either side of the break, but some ten minutes in to the second half Negredo latched on to the ball just over the half-way line and struck a long shot which sailed over the head of Juan Carlos into the net. With twenty minutes to go Llorente restored the lead following a Jozabed corner, but once again Paco Alcácer saved the day for Gary Neville’s side with a late equalizer.
Getafe move above Valencia in the table after they came from behind to beat Espanyol 3-1. Caicedo brought an early save out of Guaita, and midway through the first half the Catalans took the lead, Hernán Pérez heading in a Víctor Alvarez cross. However by half time the locals had turned the scoreline around, Pedro León ghosting past his marker to beat Pau López after a Víctor Rodríguez shot came back off the bar, and Sarabia turning in a cross from Damián Suárez. Salva Sevilla, Pedro León and Scepovic all rattled the woodwork after the restart, but with the game in injury time Moi Gómez latched on to Sarabia’s pass to wrap things up. (17.01.16)
With the top three all playing on Sunday, fourth placed Villarreal missed out on a chance to close the gap on the leaders after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Betis on Saturday evening. Marcelino’s side had won their last six games, and with their opponents not having scored a single goal in four this was a home banker. However caretaker coach Juan Merino, who took over from Pepe Mel a few days ago, revitalized his line-up with a couple of his ex B team youngsters, and although they failed to score again, the point was a welcome relief in their fight to avoid the drop. Things could have been different however had Soldado not turned a good chance against the post in the second minute, but soon afterwards Areola had to save close up from Rubén Castro. Adán had to keep out Bakambu and Soldado before the break, and Kadir in particular was a constant problem, his best chance a shot just wide of the post after the restart. In the end though both coaches had to settle for a point apiece, which didn’t really help either of them to their respective objectives.
Celta are now six points behind Marcelino’s side after they beat bottom club Levante 4-3 in a thrilling match earlier in the evening. The early chances fell to the visitors, Deyverson in particular failing to find the target a couple of times. However two strikes from Guidetti put the locals well ahead at the break, the first with a low shot after Iago Aspas laid the ball across, and the second with a lob in off the near post after Daniel Wass put him through. Orellana fired a shot straight at the keeper before Aspas ran on to a Pablo Hernández pass to make it three with just under an hour gone, but the visitors came back with two in as many minutes soon afterwards, Deyverson heading in a sweeping cross from Camarasa, and Pedro López drilling a low shot past Sergio Alvarez from a Morales centre. Deyverson could have levelled it when he saw the local keeper tip his header over the bar a few minutes later, but Orellana restored the two goal lead with a low shot past Diego Mariño, and a last minute strike by Morales came too late to change the result.
Celta stay two points above Sevilla, who are up to sixth after a 2-1 victory over regional neighbours Málaga in the first game of the afternoon. This was always going to be an intense match, the locals having won their last eight at home, and the visitors unbeaten in seven. Keepers Sergio Rico and Kameni were fully occupied early on with efforts from Amrabat (probably playing his last match before moving on to Watford), Recio, Weligton, Vitolo and Krohn-Dehli, but with half time approaching two in as many minutes from Gameiro following assists from Rami and Vitolo swung the game in favour of the locals. The French striker should have wrapped things up when free on goal twice after the restart, losing control the first time, and seeing Weligton clear off the line with the keeper beaten the second. However Charles got one back after Weligton headed across a Duda free kick, and there were some nervous moments for the home fans (not to mention red cards for Iborra and Boka) before the final whistle.
Elsewhere Real Sociedad and Deportivo drew 1-1 in the last match of the night, a result which kept the Galicians in eighth spot, and helped Eusebio’s side inch away from the danger zone. Visiting keeper Lux had to save from Jonathas and Rubén Pardo early on, but Rulli had to keep out Lucas Pérez, and midway through the first half Luis Alberto gave the visitors the lead after Pérez passed across on a quick breakaway. Lux made crucial stops again from Bruma and Pardo, and Bruma had a strike ruled out for offside before the interval, and Rulli tipped a Luis Alberto volley over the bar in reply after the restart. A few minutes later Jonathas felt himself unlucky to have a header disallowed for a questionable offside, but three minutes after that Real were awarded a penalty after Jonás Gutiérrez pulled down Xabi Prieto, and the team captain stepped up to level the scores from the spot. In the last ten minutes Jonathas had another strike disallowed before heading an Illarramendi free kick against the crossbar, and young substitute Oyarzabal also rattled the bar with a long shot, but the final whistle went soon afterwards. (16.01.16)