Real Sociedad thrashed Espanyol 0-5 in this week’s Monday night game, a result which left the Catalans within a point of the drop zone and their coach Constantin Galca facing possible destitution. Jonathas and Carlos Vela both lobbed Arlauskis to put the visitors two up with less than ten minutes on the clock, and at half time Galca had to make a change after the ex Watford keeper pulled up with an injury. However the match continued in the same vein, Rubén Pardo putting Oyarzabal though to beat Pau López, and then swinging in a corner for Diego Reyes to head the fourth. The fans started to leave the ground with over half an hour still to go, and although Burgui did try his luck a couple of times, Jonathas rounded things off right at the end after De la Bella’s shot was blocked, the ball spinning up past Ciani before the striker hooked a shot into the net. It was a second win in a row for Eusebio’s side, and they are now up to eleventh in the table. (08.02.16)
Barcelona stay top for another week after a 0-2 victory at Levante in this Sunday’s mid-day game. It was not an easy win though, and the locals put up a much better fight than their city neighbours Valencia, who had been thrashed 7-0 by Luis Enrique’s team just a few days ago. Messi had an early strike incorrectly ruled out for offside, and Neymar brought a good save out of Diego Mariño before the visitors took the lead with an element of good luck, David Navarro deflecting Jordi Alba’s cross past his own keeper. However for the rest of the first half Levante were on top, Verza going close with a free kick, Lerma shooting wide when free on goal, and Morales curling a shot against the upright. Bravo had to save from Rossi after the restart, and the result was in doubt until the second minute of injury time, when Luis Suárez picked up a pass from Messi and ran on to poke a shot past Mariño.
Later in the evening Real Madrid beat Granada 1-2 to stay in touch with the top two. They had problems as well however, Modric only firing home an impressive winner with five minutes to go. Peñaranda had a goal ruled out for offside and Isaac Success caused a few problems for Zidane’s side before Benzema got on the end of Carvajal’s cross to head the opener on the half hour mark. After the restart Andrés had to be at his best to keep out Modric and Benzema, but Success and Rochina went close, and a quarter of an hour in to the second half El-Arabi ran on to Rochina’s through ball to clip the equalizer past Keylor Navas. A defeat in the end though for the Andalusians, and they remain in next to bottom spot as a result.
Sevilla stay in fifth place after they drew 1-1 at Celta, the second match between the two teams in three days after they met in the cup midweek. The Andalusians had dominated that game to virtually ensure their place in the final, but this time they were up against it when the returning Fazio was sent off for a second bookable offence with only twenty-five minutes gone. However that only inspired the visitors more, and Sergio Alvarez had to push a shot from Reyes around the post before Carriço put them ahead, turning a shot past the keeper after he had saved a header from Llorente. After the interval Beauvue missed an easy chance, but a few minutes later he connected with a Daniel Wass cross to score his first goal for his new club. Emery pulled his men back though, and they held on for a result which keeps them two points above their hosts in the table.
Meanwhile Valencia’s poor form continues, the Ches now having gone twelve league games without a win after a 1-0 defeat at Betis. Coach Gary Neville was under pressure to get a result, especially after the 7-0 drubbing in the Nou Camp midweek, and André Gomes and Negredo both failed to convert chances before the break. Mat Ryan had to save from Ricky Van Wolfwinkel though, and just four minutes in to the second half the Dutch striker passed across for Rubén Castro to open the scoring. Vargas cleared off the line from Negredo a few minutes later, Rodrigo fired a shot wide, and Mustafi had a headed goal ruled out for a borderline offside, but after Gayà picked up two bookings it was all over. The win takes the Andalusians level with their opponents in the table, both now just four points above the relegation spots. (07.02.16)
Atlético Madrid moved level with leaders Barcelona pending their game on Sunday after beating Eibar 3-1 in the first game on Saturday evening. Both coaches were forced to make changes to their line-ups, Simeone having to draft in Sául Ñíguez as a makeshift defender with three of his first choice back four suspended and Savic indisposed, and Mendilibar having to find a replacement for top scorer Borja Bastón, who was unavailable for contractual reasons. Although it was a lively first half, neither keeper had a real save to make. However just a minute after the restart Keko put the visitors in front after Saúl gave the ball away to Sergi Enrich. It only took a quarter of an hour though for Atleti to turn the scores around, Giménez and Saúl heading in Koke corners, and Vietto had a strike ruled out for a borderline offside soon afterwards. The introduction of Fernando Torres livened things up after that, Riesgo having to keep him out a couple of times before he got on the end of Vietto’s cross to finally score his 100th goal in an Atlético shirt. Curiously youngster Lucas Hernández was amongst the first to congratulate him. His dad was on the pitch when “El Niño” got his first!
Later in the evening fourth placed Villarreal extended their unbeaten run to ten games after a 0-0 draw at a rainy Athletic Bilbao, the result leaving the Basque side still ten points below them in sixth spot. It was a hard match though, with twelve yellow cards, including two each for Williams and Bonera, who were sent off in injury time. Williams in fact had had the better chances in the first half together with Soldado, and after the restart Laporte, Sabin and Soldado all went close before the referee finally called it a day.
Elsewhere Rayo Vallecano beat Las Palmas 2-0, Miku scrambling the opener over the line early on after Javi Varas could only partly block a shot from Bebé, and Bigas slipped trying to clear. Juan Carlos had to save from David Simón and Willian José after that, but Jozabed fired a long shot off the crossbar, and Varas did well to keep out Miku and Llorente either side of half time. The game could have gone either way though until Miku played on Jozabed’s cross with his heel, Bebé on hand to fire home his team’s second. The win takes the Madrid based side out of the bottom three, now two points above the Canary Islanders, who themselves ended the day in the drop zone.
Sporting Gijón stay out of the relegation spots as well after they drew 1-1 against Deportivo in the last match of the day. Rayo’s win had momentarily left the Asturians in the bottom three, but with just over half an hour gone Jony gave them the lead following a corner with a shot which deflected in off Juanfran. However before the half time whistle Luis Alberto levelled the scores with a shot inside the near post after Lucas Pérez set him up. After the interval Sanabria went close two or three times, but Pérez could have won it for the visitors had Cuéllar not kept him out late on. (06.02.16)
Málaga’s revival continues, and they made it six wins in nine games after they beat Getafe 3-0 on Friday evening. All the goals came in the first half, Juanpi starting things off early on with a run past two defenders before slotting a shot past Guaita. Filipenko went close before new signing Atsu latched on to a square pass from Charles to make it two, and Charles himself got on the end of a Duje Cop cross to score the third on the stroke of half time. Pablo León did go close a couple of times with long free kicks, and Moi Gómez tested Kameni before the break, but the result was never really in doubt, and Charles and Cop both had chances to extend the lead after the interval. Having started the season at the bottom of the table, the Andalusians are up to tenth, now four points above their opponents in the table. (05.02.16)