Granada and Espanyol drew 1-1 in this week’s Monday night game, a result which took the hosts out of the drop zone (ahead of Getafe on goal difference), and left their opponents still five points above them in the table. The Andalusians had to play three-quarters of the match with ten men after Barral picked up two yellow cards for aggressive tackles, but Ricardo Costa headed a good chance just wide, and Rochina gave them the lead shortly before the break following good work by Isaac Success. After the break the Catalans went close a couple of times, Oscar Duarte heading wide and Andrés tipping another header by Sylla over the bar, but it was not until seven minutes from the end that Miguel Lopes turned a Hernán Pérez cross in to his own net to level the scores. (14.03.16)
Real Madrid stay four points behind second placed Atlético after a last minute 1-2 win at Las Palmas on Sunday night. The Canary Islanders were on a high after three wins in a row, and Willian José brought an early save out of Keylor Navas. However Javi Varas had to keep out Cristiano Ronaldo at the other end, and midway through the first half Sergio Ramos headed the opener from Isco’s corner. Bale fired a shot just wide after the interval, but Nili and Momo tested Navas and his defence, and with three minutes to go Momo intercepted a poor Kovacic free kick to set up ex Madrid B striker Willian José for the equalizer. Zidane’s side reacted rapidly though, Casemiro heading in a Jesé corner two minutes later, and they held on despite having Ramos sent off in injury time.
Madrid are now ten points clear of fourth placed Villarreal after Marcelino’s side lost 4-2 at Sevilla earlier in the evening. Iborra got on the end of Gameiro’s assist to give the Andalusians the lead midway through the first half, but Bakambu struck twice before the break to turn the scoreline around, the first after Rukavina’s cross fell to him, and the second with an impressive volley from Adrián López’s lofted pass. However Víctor Ruíz turned a Konoplyanka cross into his own net soon after the restart to level the scores again, and Konoplyanka beat Areola with a shot from outside of the area a few minutes later to put the locals back in front. With ten minutes to go Emery’s side were left with ten men when Banega picked up a second booking, but Reyes wrapped things up in injury time to give the Andalusians their sixteenth straight home win, securing the head-to-head advantage over their opponents into the bargain.
Sevilla close to within five points of Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao stay a point behind them after a 3-1 victory over Betis. With games coming thick and fast, Valverde rested several key players, and Rubén Castro almost took advantage when he fired a good chance over the top early on. Make-shift centre forward Sabin chested on a long pass from San José to open the scoring though with just over half an hour gone, and with half time approaching Mikel Rico drilled home the second as several players stopped expecting the referee to award a penalty for hand ball by Molinero. Five minutes after the restart Sabin got his second of the evening after Adán could only push out a volley from Rico, and only a good save from the keeper prevented Muniain from adding to the scoreline. With the game coming to a close Castro hit the post, and from the resulting corner he headed in a late consolation for his side, but it came to prevent a first defeat in seven games for the Andalusians.
Earlier in the day bottom club Levante beat neighbours Valencia 1-0 to move to within three points of safety. The city was in the middle of the local Fallas festival, and an enthusiastic crowd turned up for this mid-day kick-off. Feghouli missed a couple of early chances for the visitors, but otherwise the first half belonged to the hosts, Rossi hitting the post, Deyverson and Feddal bringing first class saves out of Diego Alves, and Deyverson heading a Morales cross wide when free in front of goal. The second half carried on in the same vein until Rossi latched on to a long Juanfran throw-in to turn a shot past Alves and in to the net, and after that Rubi’s team shut up shop for three vital points. It was another embarrassing defeat for Gary Neville’s side, and they ended the weekend just seven points above the relegation zone. (13.03.16)
Another big win for leaders Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, Luis Enrique’s side thrashing Getafe 6-0 to increase their unbeaten run to 37 games. The coach rested several key players for this match but they still ran like clockwork, scoring a goal every ten minutes for the first hour or so until everything was put to bed. Juan Rodríguez turned Jordi Alba’s cross past his own keeper to start things off, and Messi had a penalty saved by Guaita after Neymar was fouled in the area before Munir got on the end of Messi’s assist to head in the second. With just over half an hour gone Messi slotted the ball through for Neymar to score the third, and the Argentinian forward got the fourth himself after picking up a pass from Arda Turan to turn past Juan Rodríguez and fire a shot out of reach of the visiting keeper. The rout continued after the break, Messi again putting Neymar through for his second of the match, and Turan getting on the scoresheet with an acrobatic overhead kick after Munir and then Piqué played on a Neymar corner. Wanderson and Moi Gómez did go close for the visitors later on as Barça relaxed, but it was an eighth defeat in nine games for Fran Escribá’s side, and they could end the weekend in the relegation spots if results go against them this weekend.
The Catalans stay eight points clear of Atlético Madrid, who consolidated second spot with a 3-0 victory over Deportivo later in the evening. Simeone’s side were on top for most of the game, Giménez heading a Koke free kick over the bar before Saúl Ñíguez ran in to beat the 40 year old Manuel Pablo to a Filipe Luis cross and head the first goal down past Lux. Carrasco fired a shot straight at the keeper when free on goal, and Griezmann ran through only to miss the target, and the visitors only troubled Oblak with a long shot from Borges which went wide of the mark. With an hour on the clock Griezmann made it two with a shot on the turn from Koke’s pass, and although Saúl had to block an effort from Fede Cartabia soon afterwards with the keeper beaten, substitute Correa picked up a long Gabi free kick to run on and score the third with seven minutes to go.
Celta are back up to sixth after a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad, the tenth time this season that the Galicians have won by a single goal margin. Iago Aspas got the goal early on, the ex Liverpool striker pulling down a long ball from Nolito before lifting a shot over Rulli. Wass went close a couple of times either side of the break, and the Basque side hardly troubled Sergio Alvarez before substitute Carlos Vela saw his shot deflected wide for a corner midway through the second half. Jonathas turned an effort just wide and Aspas centred across the front of goal without anyone able to get to it, but otherwise the game ended without too much for the fans to shout about.
Eibar stay in eighth place after they drew 1-1 at Rayo Vallecano in the last match of the day. Zé Castro headed in a Trashorras corner to give the locals an early lead, and Miku brought a good save out of Riesgo a few minutes later. Escalante headed a Juncà cross over the top though, and soon afterwards the two combined again for the Argentinian midfielder to head home the equalizer. After the interval Borja Bastón and Inui went close, and Miku missed an easy chance from Embarba’s cross. The visitors were left with ten men though when Radosevic picked up a second booking, and only a great save from Risgo prevented Diego Llorente from heading the winner with the game already in time added on. The result takes Rayo above neighbours Getafe on goal difference, both just a point above the relegation spots pending the rest of the weekend games. (12.03.16)One match on Friday evening this week, Málaga moving safely up to mid-table after a 1-0 victory over Sporting Gijón. Ochoa was making his first league start in goal after 18 months at the club, and he had to save from Sanabria in the opening minute. However Chory Castro and Charles went close at the other end, and midway through the first half the locals took the lead, Charles laying off Recio’s pass for Juanpi to cut across the edge of the area and curl a shot wide of Cuéllar. After the interval Recio tested Cuéllar with a long shot, and Weligton headed a free kick just wide with the keeper stranded. Ochoa had to save from Sanabria and then Pedro Pérez though, and Carlos Castro fired a shot against the foot of the post with the goal at his mercy. The visitors felt they should have had a last minute penalty as well when Pablo Fornals appeared to block a Halilovic cross with his upper arm, but the referee waved play-on. A fourth defeat in a row for the Asturians, and they stand to end the weekend further down in the drop zone. (11.03.16)