Espanyol move above Athletic Bilbao to fifth in the table after a 3-2 victory over the Basque side in this week's Monday night game. The game got off to a lively start, David López just failing to turn in a Simao free kick in the third minute, and Colotto lucky to be let off a penalty when he blocked an Aduríz header with his arm. The Catalans took the lead midway through the first half, Víctor Sánchez winning the ball in midfield and blasting a long shot in off the near post, and Stuani went close with a header soon afterwards. Moreno had to clear an effort by Muniain with the keeper beaten though, and just before half time De Marcos equalized, turning the ball past Casilla after Mikel Rico played Beñat's cross back across goal. Just four minutes after the break however Víctor Sánchez restored the lead with his second of the night, and a few minutes later Iraizoz had to make a double save from Stuani and then Sergio García, the keeper unable to avoid fumbling García's follow up header over the line. That seemed to have sealed the three points, although there was still time for Ibai Gómez to set up a nervous finish with a well struck free kick in the second minute of injury time. (23.09.13)
Real Madrid stay two points behind leaders Barcelona and Atlético Madrid after a 4-1 victory over neighbours Getafe on Sunday evening. The much awaited home debut of Gareth Bale had to be postponed though after he aggravated an injury in the pre-match warm up, and there was more disappointment for the home fans when Lafita opened the scoring for the visitors with a shot which took a slight deflection off Pepe to wrong foot Diego López. Pepe made up for it though with the equalizer a quarter of an hour later, turning the ball in from close up after Moy'a could only push out a shot by Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ronaldo himself put the locals ahead from the penalty spot a few minutes later after Michel blocked his previous free kick with his arm. Benzema and Ronaldo went close either side of half time, and with an hour gone Isco made it three after picking a quickly taken Ronaldo free kick before cutting across the area to fire a shot inside the far post. Benzema missed a couple of chances after that and was finally replaced by Morata, and Moyà was lucky to stay on the field when he brought down Ronaldo outside of the area as he advanced on goal. With five minutes to go Getafe were left with ten men when Michel was sent off for a foul on Jesé, and with the game in injury time Ronaldo rounded things off with a clever back-heel for his second of the evening, his 208th goal in 205 appearances for the club making him their fifth top scorer of all time. Bale was not missed in the end!
Valencia beat Sevilla 3-1 in the last game of the evening to move away from the danger zone. Both teams desperately needed a win, the Ches after three defeats in a row and the visitors (despite a good start to their European campaign) with only two points from their first five league games. The locals had the better of things early on though, Pabón, Postiga and Jonas all going close, and Postiga feeling he should have had at least one penalty. Marin and Jairo responded at the other end, but with half an hour gone Jonas got on the end of Fede's cross to steer a shot wide of Beto. Diego Alves had to be at his best to keep out Marin and Vitolo either side of half time however, and early in the second half Gameiro made it all square, turning the ball in on the far post after M'Bia headed on Rakitic's corner. Jonas restored the lead though with his second of the evening, and Víctor Ruíz headed a third near the end from Banega's wide free kick to leave the Andalusians down at the bottom of the table.
The other two matches on Sunday both ended without goals. Sevilla's neighbours Betis drew 0-0 with regional rivals Granada in this weekend's mid-day kick off, the visitors surely the happier of the two for the result. Most of the action came in their half after the break, Roberto having to make saves from Salva Sevilla, Jorge Molina and Verdú, and Cedrick heading a chance right across the goalmouth from Verdú's cross. Only a couple of efforts off target by El-Arabi caused any problems for Guillermo Sara, and Verdú almost won it for the locals when he curled a shot just wide of the far upright from a virtually impossible angle. The result leaves both sides in the lower half of the table on five points from five games.
Later in the evening Celta and Villarreal also drew 0-0, a result which keeps the visitors in fourth place pending the Monday night game, and leaves their hosts four spots below them in the table. It was one way traffic for most of the game though, Yoel the hero of the day with a string of saves throughout the ninety minutes. The local keeper made early stops from Giovani and Jonathan Pereira, and Pereira fired a couple of efforts wide later in the first half. Toni responded with a wide free kick which Asenjo pushed round the post, and young striker Santi Mina just failed to get on the end of dangerous cross from Rafinha. But Giovani and Pereira both had strikes ruled out for borderline offsides soon after the restart, and Yoel was in action again to keep out Aquino, Pina and Hernán Pérez later on. (22.09.13)
Barcelona and Atlético Madrid stay neck-and-neck at the top of the table after both won their games on Saturday evening. Barcelona beat Rayo Vallecano 0-4, a repeat of their midweek Champions League match against Ajax. This time though it was Pedro rather than Messi who scored the hat-trick, the first coming with just over half an hour gone following a good run by Messi himself. Before that Neymar had had a shot cleared off the line, but Valdés also had to save an early header from Perea, and Montoya almost put through his own net with a wayward back-pass which went just wide of the post. With ten minutes to go to the break Rayo were awarded a penalty when Adriano bundled in to Trashorras, but for the second time in three days Valdés dived to his right to keep out the ex Barcelona B midfielder's spot kick. After the restart however Barça took control, Pedro scoring his second from a Fàbregas cross and then completing his first hat-trick for the club after Neymar set him up. Neymar hit the post in between and Messi had an effort saved by Rubén, and with ten minutes to go Fàbregas completed the scoring after Xavi intercepted a poor clearance and passed in for the ex Arsenal man to score his first of the new campaign. Rayo kept at it though, Valdés having to keep out a Saúl header in injury time, and their consolation was that they are the first team in five years to have more possession of the ball than Barcelona over the ninety minutes. Tonight that didn't count for much though, and Paco Jémez's side find themselves in the relegation spots for the first time in ten years.
Later in the evening Atlético Madrid won 0-2 at Valladolid to keep up their 100% record this season. Chances were few and far between in the first half, Omar and Valdet Rama going close for the locals, and Jesús Rueda heading a Koke free kick against his own crossbar at the other end trying to clear. Raúl García had a header saved soon after the interval though, and a few minutes later he opened the scoring with a looping header over Mariño after Koke played a corner back in to the box. Diego Costa had a shot blocked and then headed over the top, but soon afterwards Koke slid the ball through for him to turn a shot past the keeper. Osorio came close to getting one back when his shot was blocked by Manquillo with the keeper beaten, but Mariño had to be at his best to keep out Cristian Rodríguez, and Mario Suárez fired a shot wide right at the end. Another win for Simeone's side though, and this year they could be an outside bet for the title if the big two are not up to scratch.
Real Sociedad kicked off the day with a 0-0 draw against Málaga, a result which kept the Basque side a point ahead of their opponents in the table. The locals did get the ball in the net early on following a corner, but it was ruled out as Iñigo Martínez had played the ball on with his hand. However for the rest of the first half the visitors were on top, Portillo, Angeleri and El Hamdaoui all going close. Real had the better chances after the restart, with Agirretxe shooting wide José Angel firing a free kick over the top and Griezmann coming up against Willy Caballero, but after that substitute Santa Cruz could have won it for Bernd Schuster's side had he been able to convert two or three opportunities later on. A second goal-less draw in a row though for Real, and a third game in a week without scoring after their Champions League defeat on Tuesday.
Honours were shared as well between Almería and Levante, the visitors coming back from two goals down to draw 2-2. Both keepers were in action early on, Keylor Navas saving from Soriano and Suso, and Esteban keeping out Babá. With the first half coming to a close however Verza put the locals in front from the penalty spot after Juanfran pushed over Suso in the area, and five minutes after the interval Suso made it two with an impressive shot from outside of the area. For the fourth game this season though Francisco's team were unable to hold on to their lead, El Zhar converting a second penalty after Christian was sent off for picking up two bookings from the same corner, and Diop volleying home another corner just minutes later. Even so it took a couple of late saves by Navas from Rodri and Pellerano to prevent the East coast side from clocking up their first victory of the season. (21.09.13)
Osasuna moved off the bottom of the table after a 2-1 victory over Elche on Friday evening! The Pamplona based side had lost all their first four games, but with a quarter of an hour on the clock Armenteros put them ahead with a shot in off the far post after a loose ball fell to him on the edge of the area. Andrés had to keep out shots from Carlos Sánchez and Boakye and a free kick from Edu Albácar before the break as the visitors fought back, but three minutes after the restart Oriol Riera made it two, beating Manu at the second attempt after the keeper saved his first shot. After that Javi Gracia's team contained their rivals until two minutes from the end, when Albácar got a late consolation from the penalty spot after Marc Bertrán blocked a cross with his arm inside the area. There was no time for the visitors to do any more however, and they ended the day level with their hosts in the table, still looking for that elusive first win. (20.09.13)