News Archive

Match round-up - First Division, Day 36

Levante are the first team to be relegated after they lost 3-1 to Málaga in the Monday night game. Although they had virtually nothing at stake the locals got off to a great start, Diego Mariño having to save from Chory Castro and Charles, and Medjani clearing off the line from the Brazilian striker before Duje Cop got on the end of Castro’s cross to give them the lead. A minute before the goal though Cuero had a strike ruled out for offside, and Rossi fired a shot over the top before Morales ran on to José Mari’s pass to level the scores shortly before the break. Charles missed an open goal after the restart, but soon afterwards Morales got the ball in the net, only for referee Bikandi Garrido to disallow the goal, this time for a non-existent offside decision. That took the wind out of Levante’s sails, and in the last four minutes Cop and Castro scored two more to send the Valencia based side down after six seasons in the top flight. (02.05.16)

Villarreal tied up the fourth Champions League spot after a 0-2 victory at neighbours Valencia on Sunday evening. Marcelino made no less than ten changes from the line-up he put out against Liverpool on Thursday, but even so his team took the lead when Samuel connected with a Soldado pass to beat Diego Alves on the quarter hour mark. Alves did well to push a shot from youngster Rodri round the post a few minutes later, but with just over half an hour gone Adrián López ran through from his own half to pick up a Soldado assist and steer a shot past the Brazilian keeper. The Ches didn’t manage a real shot at goal until Rodrigo turned Cancelo’s centre just past the post shortly before the break, and Siqueira almost put through his own net after the interval, his clearance from Adrián’s cross hitting the upright and bouncing clear. There was further grief for coach Pako Ayestarán when Cheryshev limped off just minutes after coming on as substitute following a long injury lay-off, leaving his side with ten men, and many fans left the stadium well before the final whistle, their season already over. The win takes Villarreal six points clear of their nearest rivals Athletic Bilbao, and with a superior head-to-head record against the Basque side they cannot now be caught.

Athletic themselves beat Celta 2-1 in this Sunday’s mid-day game to move above the Galicians to fifth. The visitors had the better chances early on, and with just under a quarter of an hour on the clock Orellana ran on to a long ball from midfield to force a shot past Iraizoz. However with seven minutes to go to the break Aduríz made it all square from the penalty spot after Cabral pulled him down in the area, and before the half time whistle Celta were left with ten men when Cabral was red-carded for a retaliatory kick on the striker as he lay on the floor. Soon after the restart Raúl García crashed a long shot against the upright, and a few minutes later he scored what was to prove the winner, cleverly hooking the ball past Sergio Alvarez whilst lying on the ground after battling for a Williams cross. Berizzo immediately went for broke bring on Guidetti, and Iraizoz had to be at his best to keep out the Swedish striker near the end. A key win for Athletic though, and they get the edge on their rivals for that fifth spot which gives direct access to the Europa League, thereby avoiding the tricky qualifying stage.

Sevilla meanwhile will join Athletic and Celta in next season’s Europa League, although (unless they win this year’s final!) they will probably have to start the competition in the early rounds. Any real hope they had of catching either of the teams above them ended when they lost 1-0 at Espanyol, and they are now five points below Celta with only two games to go. Emery’s mind was on the European semi-final against Shakhtar though, and he put out a depleted side, including three B team youngsters in his line-up. Honours were evenly shared in the first half, Iborra and Víctor Sánchez the closest to scoring, but a couple of minutes after the restart Sánchez headed against the post, and soon afterwards Caicedo opened the scoring after Sergio Rico could only push Marco Asensio’s shot on to the upright. Rico had to save a couple of times after that from Asensio and Hernán Pérez, and Moreno hit the post again, but Espanyol already had the win they needed to virtually ensure top flight football in the Cornellà stadium for next season.

Deportivo though are still not safe, a 0-2 defeat at home to Getafe dragging them down in to the relegation battle. The Galicians had the better of the first half, Luis Alberto in particular bringing the save of the night from Guaita, but with half time approaching Pedro León picked up the ball on the right of the area and cut across to fire a shot inside the near post. Guaita did well to keep out Fede Cartabia after the interval, but some twenty minutes in to the second half the locals were left with ten men when Celso Borges picked up a second booking, and only a great stop by Manu prevented Scepovic from scoring. However with five minutes to go Vigaray got on the end of a corner to squeeze a shot inside the post, and Scepovic could have added a third when his shot hit the post and bobbled along the goal line. It was a third home defeat in a row for Depor, and they end the day just four points above their opponents, who are now level with Rayo and Sporting, and just one point below Granada. After picking up seven points from their last three games, the Getafe president said that if new coach Juan Eduardo Esnáider can save the side from relegation he gets to keep his job. Given where they were when he took over, he should be given a medal! (01.05.16)

Two weeks to go to the end of the season, and the top three are still only a point apart after all of them won again on Saturday evening. Barcelona hold on to top spot though after they beat Betis 0-2, and if they can win their last two games against Espanyol and Granada, nobody can stop them from winning the title for the second year in a row. The locals were all but mathematically safe, but they still came out strongly early on, Rubén Castro and Bruno going close in the first five minutes. Iniesta and Neymar brought good stops out of Adán in reply though, and with ten minutes to go to the break the Andalusians were left with ten men when Westermann picked up a second booking. Luis Suárez fired a shot just wide after the restart, but a couple of minutes later Messi lifted the ball in to the area, and a failed attempt at an acrobatic clearance by Pezzella put off the local keeper, allowing Rakitic to poke the ball in to the empty net. Messi had a shot deflected for a corner, and Neymar and Suárez brought further saves out of Adán before Messi slipped the ball through for Suárez to wrap things up. The only bad news for Luis Enrique was a late injury to Claudio Bravo, and it looks as if Ter Stegen will have to take over for the last two matches.

Earlier in the evening Real Madrid and Atlético both won by single goal margins to put the pressure on the Catalan side. Real Madrid were missing the injured Ronaldo and Benzema, but they still won 0-1 at Real Sociedad to stay within a point of the leaders. Once again the onus was on Bale to perform, and he went close two or three times in the opening twenty minutes. Nacho had a shot blocked before the break, and Rulli had to make a couple of saves from Bale after the restart, and the locals only troubled Keylor Navas with a couple of half chances at the other end. With ten minutes to go though Bale got above his marker to head a Lucas Vázquez centre past the local keeper, and despite a late flurry from the home side, the points were in the bag.

Atlético Madrid stay a point ahead of their city rivals, level with Barça in the table, after they beat neighbours Rayo Vallecano 1-0. Diego Simeone rested several key players for the upcoming Champions League tie in Munich, and his side were almost caught out early on, Embarba shooting wide and Miku coming up against Oblak. Correa tested Juan Carlos at the other end, but some ten minutes in to the second half Simeone turned to Griezmann and Fernando Torres. Just forty seconds later Atleti were ahead after Crespo could only partly clear a long free kick, Griezmann picking up the rebound and thrashing a shot past the visiting keeper. Torres should have made it two a few minutes later when he shot straight at Juan Carlos when free on goal, and Koke fired a shot just over the top near the end, but they had already done enough for another narrow win.

The defeat leaves Rayo just outside of the bottom three after Granada clocked up a 3-2 victory over Las Palmas in the last match of the day. Jonathan Viera actually put the Canary Islanders two up with only twelve minutes gone, the first a shot from outside of the area, and the second a shot on the turn from Roque’s lofted pass. Rochina ran through to get one back soon afterwards, but the visitors almost scored again, Andrés pushing out Tana’s shot, and Araujo heading the rebound against the crossbar. Midway through the first half however El-Arabi levelled it with a header after Doucouré played on Rochina’s corner, and the Moroccan striker hit the post after the interval before Ricardo Costa Ricardo Costa headed the winner from another Rochina corner with twenty minutes to go. (30.04.16)

Sporting Gijón are out of the relegation zone, for 24 hours at least, after a 2-0 victory over Eibar in the Friday night game! This was a must-win match for the Asturians, and Abelardo put out his strongest side after resting several players in the Nou Camp last weekend. The early chances fell to the visitors, Jota in particular coming up against Cuéllar a couple of times when free on goal, but with the first half coming to an end Carmona got on the end of Jony’s cross to head the opener. After the interval Isma López had a good penalty claim turned down when Capa barged him over, and with twenty minutes to go Cuéllar just got a hand to a shot from Sergi Enrich, the ball hitting the post and rolling across the goal-line before a defender got it clear. A few minutes later though Luna misread a long Cuéllar goal-kick, and Jony ran on to fire a shot under Riesgo. After that Inui had a strike ruled out for a dubious offside decision, and the local keeper had to save a couple of late efforts from Borja Bastón, but Sporting had the three points they needed. Next up Getafe, and with a negative head-to-head record against all of their closest rivals, they need to win that one as well. (29.04.16)