La Liga Roundup Gameweek 22: Madrid Crash, Barca Stumble

Real Madrid’s dismal showing at Granada on Saturday, capped by Cristiano Ronaldo’s own goal, encapsulated all that has gone wrong in a disastrous season for Jose Mourinho’s side. Barcelona could only draw at Valencia, while Atletico Madrid won 1-0 against Real Betis, meaning that Los Blancos now trail Atletico by seven points and are a massive 16 points behind Barca.

Barca were held to a 1-1 draw at the Mestalla by Ernesto Valverde’s improving Valencia side. Both goals came in the first half, with Ever Banega’s opener for Los Che cancelled out by a Lionel Messi penalty after Joao Pereira fouled Pedro. Messi has now scored in 12 consecutive matches, another Primera record broken by the Argentine.

Real Madrid were condemned to a 1-0 defeat  at Los Carmenes when the Portuguese icon headed past his own goalkeeper, Diego Lopez, as he tried to head clear a corner from Nolito. Mourinho’s men fought hard for an equaliser, substitute Karim Benzema squandering a golden opportunity late on, but Granada held on for a win that lifts them out of the danger zone.

Atletico overcame Betis at the Vicente Calderon thanks to Diego Costa’s second half strike, while Malaga  remain fourth, despite being surprisingly held 1-1 at La Rosaleda by lowly Zaragoza. Helder Postiga’s eighth of the season for Zaragoza was cancelled out by Isco. Manuel Pellegrini’s side are just a point ahead of Betis and two in front of Valencia and Rayo Vallecano as competition for European places hots up.

Rayo slipped up with a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla. Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring for the home side, but Chori Dominguez equalised for Rayo. Alfredo Negredo, mentioned as an EPL target before the closure of the transfer window, netted the winner for Sevilla, who had Rakitic dismissed in stoppage time for a second yellow card.

Espanyol’s recovery continued as goals from Christian Stuani, Sergio Garcia and a Vicente Iborra own goal dented Levante’s Europa League aspirations. The Barcelona side were always on top at the Cornella-El Prat, and ran out winners by the odd goal in five. Ruben Garcia and Obafemi Martins were on target for the visitors.

Real Valladolid conceded a 2-0 lead to allow Athletic Bilbao to claim a point that leaves both sides firmly in the mid-table pack. Javi Guerra and Albero Bueno put La Pucela two up within 15 minutes, but Oscar De Marcos and Markel Susaeta rescued a point for the Basques.

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