The race for the first division title is wide open after Barcelona lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening! Tata Martino's side suffered their first defeat of the season in their Champions League match at at Ajax midweek, but before this weekend they had only dropped two points in the league. A late goal by Muniain though left them level with Atlético Madrid and just three points ahead of Real Madrid in the table. Despite missing several key players, the Catalan side started well, Iraizoz tipping a Neymar shot just over the bar, and Iniesta and Fàbregas shooting wide. However they gradually ran out of steam, Muniain somehow failing to turn the best of chances past Pinto, and Toquero going close with headers either side of half time. Iturraspe was lucky to be let off with a yellow card when he brought down Neymar as he advanced on goal after the break, but Iraizoz and his defence were hardly troubled from then on. With twenty minutes to go Muniain got on the end of Susaeta's cross to make up for his earlier mistake, and only a brilliant save by Pinto prevented Toquero from heading a second near the end.
The top three have already opened up an eight point gap over the rest, but Athletic themselves are up to fourth after holding on to their undefeated record in their new stadium. Sevilla and Valencia are back in the hunt for the remaining European spots though after both won earlier in the day, Sevilla beating regional rivals Granada 1-2 to move up to eighth, just a point outside of the top six. Diogo Figueras brought an early save out of Roberto before Bacca opened the scoring, the Colombian striker picking up the ball outside of the area and running on to beat the keeper after Murillo slipped trying to clear a throw-in. El-Arabi had a goal disallowed and Piti tested Beto later on in the first half though, and soon after the restart the visiting keeper made mores saves from Yebda and Piti before Brahimi made it all square from the penalty spot after a high ball hit Carriço on the arm. The game swung from end to end, Roberto tipping over a shot by Bacca and Piti firing a shot over the bar then coming up against Beto once again. However with three minutes to go Bacca headed on a long Beto clearance for Gameiro to restore the lead, and Rakitic and Bacca could both have added to the scoreline in injury time.
Valencia stay two points behind Sevilla in the table after they won 3-0 against ten man Osasuna later in the day. Arribas headed a first chance just wide for the visitors, but soon afterwards they were left with ten men when Puñal was sent off for a hard tackle on Dani Parejo, and after that they hardly encroached in to the Valencia half. Visiting keeper Andrés had to make saves from Parejo and Jonas, and Canales saw his deflected shot cannon off the crossbar before Jonas got on the end of a Barragán cross to open the scoring on the stroke of half time. The Brazilian striker netted two more in the first ten minutes of the second half to complete a hat-trick, both crosses again from the right wing by Feghouli and Barragán, and he could have had a fourth a few minutes later had Andrés not produced the save of the night from his header. The visitors finally woke up near the end, Diego Alves keeping out Riera and Armenteros shooting over the top, but by then it was all over.
The bottom two clubs Betis and Rayo Vallecano kicked off the Sunday games with a 2-2 draw at mid-day, a result which took the visitors out of the relegation zone level with Osasuna, and left their hosts two points adrift at the foot of the table. The Andalusians had tied up their classification for the knock-out stage of the Europa League on Thursday despite losing at Lyon, and they were looking to build on that to improve their standing in the league. And they seemed to be on track when Amaya headed them in to the lead from Nono's corner midway through the first half, and when Rubén Castro and Salva Sevilla both went close after that. Only a good save by Cobeño prevented Molina from making it two before the break, and a couple of minutes in to the second half Castro headed against the bar, but soon afterwards Sara dropped a Jonathan Viera shot in to the path of Alberto Bueno for him to equalize. Verdú put the locals back in front later on with a lob over the head of Cobeño after he could only push out a long cross, and with two minutes to go the keeper produced a point blank save to prevent Castro from making it three. However with the game in injury time Bueno pulled down a Viera cross to level it with his second of the match, and with the frustrated crowd showing their dissent at the end, local coach Pepe Mel may not have long to go at the club. (01.12.13)
Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid won their respective games on Saturday to put the pressure on Barcelona. Atlético Madrid beat Elche 0-2 in the first game of the afternoon to move level with the leaders pending their game at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Cholo Simeone's side were looking for a record thirteenth win in fifteen, and they had the better chances early on, Manu Herrera having to save from Gabi and Villa, and Diego costa and Arda Turan firing shots wide. Damián Suárez also did well to block Costa's shot after the keeper could only push out a long cross from Koke, but Boakye wasted a good chance at the other end, and soon after the restart Carles Gil brought a first save out of Courtois. Twenty minutes in to the second half however Koke opened the scoring after Manu blocked a shot from Raúl García, Delgado Ferrerio turning down Elche's claims that Costa had pulled over Botía as he tried to clear. The referee did disallow a strike by Arda Turan soon afterwards for what he considered to be a foul on the keeper, but a few minutes later Adrián lifted the ball over the defence for Costa to run on and score his side's second.
Later in the evening Real Madrid won 4-0 against Valladolid to stay within three points of the leaders, Gareth Bale stepping up in the absence of the injured Ronaldo to score his first hat-trick for his new club. The first half was one-way traffic, Di María rattling the crossbar early on and Diego Mariño having to make saves from Di María, Benzema and Bale. With just over half an hour gone though Bale headed the opener after the keeper could only push out Di María's cross, and just three minutes later Benzema headed the second from Bale's pin-point cross. Bergdich did test Diego López with a couple of long range efforts early in the second half, but Benzema had a strike ruled out for a borderline offside, and soon afterwards Marcelo's cross was deflected by a defender in to the path of Bale for him to steer a right foot shot past the keeper. There was still time though for Bale to complete a perfect hat-trick, this time with a left foot shot from close up after another Marcelo cross, and Morata almost got in on the act as well when Mariño pushed his shot over the bar in injury time. .
Elsewhere Celta got their first home win of the season, beating Almería 3-1 to move three points clear of their opponents in the table. Suso did give the visitors an early lead with a shot inside the near post from outside of the area, but Charles could have equalized if Krohn-Dehli had not got in his way, and soon afterwards Orellana made it all square with another angled shot from outside of the area. There was brief flurry from the visitors after that, but Esteban had to be at his best to keep out a Charles header, and just before the interval the Brazilian striker headed another chance against the bar. Four minutes in to the second half though Oubiña beat the keeper for a second time after Aurtenetxe headed on a corner, and ten minutes later Charles finally got his name on the scoresheet, turning in a wide angled shot from Hugo Mallo's cross which bounced up off Esteban's foot and over his head in to the net. Nolito came close to extending the lead when he hit the post with a late free kick, and the visitors almost got one back seconds before the final whistle when Raúl García's high cross came down off the crossbar.
Real Sociedad recovered from their early elimination from the Champions League midweek, coming back from a goal down to beat Espanyol 1-2 in the last match of the evening. Kiko Casilla had to be on his toes to keep out Agirretxe a couple of times in the opening minutes, but David López put a good chance wide before Sergio García allowed a long Moreno clearance to bounce on to Jhon Córdoba, who ran through to poke a shot past Claudio Bravo. The visiting keeper did well to save from García before the break, but midway through the second half Griezmann got in front of Casilla to head Carlos Vela's cross in to the net. After that the Basque side pushed forward, Vela and Rubén Pardo going close, and with four minutes to go Stuani sliced an innocent looking cross from Pardo back in to his own net. The win takes Real back in to the top six, now five points clear of their hosts in the table. (30.11.13)
Getafe kicked off the day 15 round of matches with a 1-0 victory over Levante on Friday night, a result which takes them up to sixth in the table. Both teams were looking to take the three points after three games without a victory, but neither produced any clear cut chances in a dull first half. The visitors had the better of things after the restart, El Zhar firing a shot just wide and Barral and Xumetra having efforts saved by Javi Jiménez, and Vyntra got the ball in the net only to be pulled up for offside. With ten minutes to go however Simao's clearance was charged down, and Diego Castro slipped the rebound through for Pedro León to fire an angled shot in off the far post. Sergio Pinto came close to leveling it when he struck a shot against the crossbar, but Luis García's boys held on to hand their rivals their fourth defeat in a row.
A bit later in the evening Villarreal were held to a 1-1 draw by Málaga, a result which puts in jeopardy their fourth place. The visitors started the day just a point above the drop zone, and they got off to a good start, Eliseu having a penalty appeal turned down and Juanmi and Sergio Sánchez going close. An injury to Samuel knocked them off their stride though, and Uche wasted a couple of good chances before Jaume Costa and Cani combined to set up Bruno for the opener. Camcho missed a chance at the other end though before the break, and midway through the second half only a double save by Asenjo prevented Eliseu and then Perdro Morales from scoring. Caballero responded keeping out a header from Giovani, but with the game in the third minute of injury time Weligton headed home a corner to take some of the pressure off coach Bernd Schuster. (29.11.13)