Barcelona and Real Madrid both rested players after their midweek Champions League games, but they still managed to clock up comfortable away wins on Sunday which keeps them in the top two positions in the table. Barcelona left the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Busquets and Jordi Alba at home, but they had no problems beating Zaragoza 0-3 to leave the Maños down in the bottom three. In the absence of their senior colleagues, Thiago and Tello took over operations, the latter firing a long shot wide in the opening minutes, and the former combining with Alexis to open the scoring in the twentieth minute. Víctor Rodríguez felt he should have had a penalty when Song brought him down around the half hour mark, but otherwise Manolo Jiménez's side caused few problems for the returning Valdés, and Tello picked up Thiago's return pass to steer home a second soon afterwards. Alexis brought a good save out of Roberto and then lobbed a shot against the bar either side of half time, and eight minutes in to the second half Tello picked up the ball midfield and ran on to cut past Loovens and make it three. After that Jiménez gave the game up as lost, resting Postiga for better times and bringing on Rochina, who also had a penalty appeal turned down before firing a long shot over the bar.
Real Madrid also won 0-3 against Athletic Bilbao later in the evening, keeping them thirteen points behind the leaders and three above city rivals Atlético Madrid. With less than two minutes on the clock Cristiano Ronaldo put them ahead with a house-special free kick, and Benzema came close to a second when he turned Di María's cross over the bar soon afterwards. Di María himself hit the bar later in the first half, but Diego López and his defence also had work to do at the other end, the visiting keeper saving from Susaeta and Ander Herrera, and Xabi Alonso blocking another shot from Susaeta. After the restart Iraizoz did well to keep out Marcelo and Benzema, with Muniain and Ibai Gómez responding for the locals soon afterwards. However Ronaldo was there again to head in a long Alonso free kick midway through the second half, and four minutes later he slipped the ball through for Higuaín to make it three. The defeats leaves the Basque side just eight points above the relegation spots, and they still have some work to do if they are to maintain their ever-present record in the top flight.
Earlier in the day Atlético Madrid put pressure on their city neighbours with a 5-0 win over Granada, the result taking them momentarily level on points with Mourinho's side. The Andalusians put up little resistance, Diego Costa heading the first from Koke's cross in the fourth minute, and Falcao adding a second after Costa crossed in from the right wing with just under half an hour gone. Two minutes after the interval Falcao got his second of the game after Koke's wide free kick came through to him in front of goal, and Granada's only reply was a couple of efforts by Nolito and Aranda which La Liga's leading keeper Courtois had no problems in stopping. Soon afterwards Raúl García was frustrated by Roberto and then the upright, but he did get his name on the scoresheet a few minutes later when he turned in another Koke free kick. And with twenty minutes to go Filipe Luis completed the scoring after Adrián put him through to leave Lucas Alcaraz's side just a point above the drop zone having only picked up two points in their last eight matches.
Real Sociedad are proving to be La Liga's revelation team this season, and they consolidated their fourth spot in the table with a 0-2 victory at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday lunchtime. The Basque side overwhelmed their hosts straight from the kick off, Agirretxe scoring twice in the first quarter of an hour, the first after Griezmann and De la Bella combined to set him up, and the second after Xabi Prieto controlled a long punt from Carlos Martínez to lay the ball across the front of goal. Local coach Paco Jémez reacted by changing his right sided players Tito and Lass with more than three quarters of the game still to go, and that at least kept things under control. Leo Baptistao came close to getting one back when he turned Piti's cross over the bar from a couple of yards out, and after the interval Chori Domínguez and Piti fired free kicks just over the top. Vela, Agirretxe and Elustondo could all have added to the lead later on however, and the visitors ran the clock down for a win which takes them four points clear of fifth placed Málaga. (14.04.13)
Málaga shrugged off their midweek Champions League defeat with a 1-0 victory over Osasuna on Saturday evening. With an appreciative crowd behind them, Pellegrini's side soon forgot their disappointment, and only top class saves by visiting keeper Andrés prevented Baptista and Saviola from opening the scoring early on. Joaquín fired a shot just wide and Saviola got through only to shoot against the foot of the post, although the visitors did get back in the game later on in the first half, Willy Caballero having to be at his best to keep out Kike Sola and De las Cuevas. The Andalusians were back on top after the interval, but Andrés made further saves from Baptista, Saviola, Joaquín and Duda to keep the scoreline unchanged going in to time added on. However Batista finally beat him after Camacho headed across Duda's long free kick to take his side back up to fifth, just a point behind Real Sociedad pending their game on Sunday.
Valencia drop to sixth, behind Málaga on goal difference, after they drew 3-3 at Espanyol earlier in the evening. Soldado was pulled up for a dubious offside early on, but otherwise the Catalans had the better of the first half, with Guaita having to save from Stuani and Capdevila, and Sergio García going close a couple of times. Wakaso headed the locals in to the lead on the stroke of half time from a long Sergio García cross, but soon after the restart Canales made it all square after running on to Banega's through ball to turn a shot under Casilla. Soldado hit the post a few minutes later and Stuani had a penalty appeal turned down, and with eight minutes to go Verdú put Aguirre's team back in front after Wakaso headed back Sergio García's chipped cross. Valencia came back though with two goals in four minutes, Soldado heading a long ball for Jonas to equalise and then scoring a third himself after another Banega assist. But the "Periquitos" were not going to give up, and with the game in the last minute of injury time Stuani headed a long Casilla clearance in to the box, and Sergio García forced his way past Víctor Ruíz to poke a shot in to the net.
The point virtually ensures Espanyol another season in the top flight, and Valladolid are just about safe as well after they came from behind to beat Getafe 2-1. Djukic's side were well motivated after their controversial defeat at Valencia last week, and Codina had to be at his best to keep out Oscar, Ebert and Larsson in the opening minutes. Manucho also wasted a couple of chances, but with the first half coming to a close Luis García's side took the lead with their first real attack, Spanish youth international Paco Alcácer heading Borja's chipped centre wide of Dani Hernández. Manucho and Oscar both went close after the restart though, and midway through the first half Oscar got on the end of Alvaro Rubio's pass to head the equaliser, the first goal that Getafe had let in for six games. Just four minutes later though Oscar set up substitute Javi Guerra for the second, and any hope that the visitors had of a comeback ended when Alexis was sent off for catching Ebert with a loose elbow.
Further down the table Deportivo climbed out of the relegation spots for the first time in 17 weeks after they beat Levante 0-4. After three wins in a row Fernando Vázquez's side were full of confidence, and they raced in to a three goal lead in the first half hour, with Valerón turning a Manuel Pablo cross past Munúa to start things off. Pizzi made it two after a good run by Bruno Gama, and Nelson Oliveira got the third after latching on to a loose ball on the edge of the area to beat the keeper with a shot on the turn. The locals improved after the interval, with Michel firing a shot over the bar, Acquafresca having a strike ruled out for a borderline offside and Roger and Juanlu bringing good saves out of Aranzubia. But with the game in injury time Bruno Gama wrapped things up after picking up a pass from the ever-green Valerón, taking the Galicians above Granada and Zaragoza in the rankings. (13.04.13)
A thrilling local derby to start off the weekend, with Betis coming back from three goals down to draw 3-3 against Sevilla. Unai Emery's side needed a win to keep in touch with the European spots, and newlywed Rakitic put them two up early on, the first from a wide angle and the second after Chica could only play his pass to the offside Negredo back in to his path. When Negredo got on the end of a Reyes cross to make it three some disgruntled fans already started to leave, but before the half time break Pabón put the locals back in the game, lobbing keeper Beto after charging down a clearance by Medel. Eight minutes in to the second half Betis were awarded a dubious penalty for an off-the-ball push by Fazio on Jorge Molina, Rubén Castro converting the spot kick, and a couple of minutes later Medel got himself sent off for a slap on Cañas which the midfielder made the most of. The ten men defended fiercely after that, but with a couple of minutes left to go substitute Nosa Igiebor got above the defence to head Pabón's cross down past the visiting keeper. The draw keeps Pepe Mel's side in sixth spot, still six points above their city rivals in the table. (12.04.13)