Win Keeps Barcelona On Course For Century
Barcelona remained on course to register 100 points as champions, but with the title race settled, the interest in La Liga has shifted to the battle for European qualification.
Last weekend, an early Pedro Rodriguez strike and a Marc Valiente own goal set Barcelona on the way to a routine win over Real Valladolid at Camp Nou. Victor Perez pulled a late goal back for the visitors but it was a comfortable win for Barca who need to win their two remaining matches to hit the 100-point mark.
Real Sociedad came back from a goal down to beat Sevilla and are in pole position to secure the vital fourth place in La Liga and with it a Champions League place. Phillipe Montanier’s men fell behind to Ivan Rakitic’s tenth-minute goal, but the Croatian went from hero to zero, scoring Sociedad’s equaliser just six minutes later when he accidentally headed past his own goalkeeper. Imanol Agirretxe’s excellent finish, his 13th goal of the season then scored what proved to be the winner in the 24th minute.
Valencia maintained the pressure on Sociedad with a 1-0 win at Getafe, Jeremy Mathieu scoring the vital goal on the stroke of half-time. Los Che remain level on points with Sociedad, but the Basques are ahead on head-to-head results.
Rayo Vallecano moved up to ninth with a 3-2 win at Levante, whose miserable run continued. Piti gave Rayo a 20th minute lead, but Robert Aquafresca equalised for the Valencians soon after half time. Franco Vazquez restored the visitors’ lead on the hour and Piti extended it from the spot. Vicente Iborra’s late goal for Levante was no more than a consolation.
Granada recorded a convincing victory over Osasuna, leapfrogging their opponents into 15th place and boosting their survival prospects. Youssef El-Arabi, Siqueira (from the penalty spot) and Diego Buonanotte scored the goals to leave El Grana five points clear of the danger zone.
Deportivo La Coruna hauled themselves out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win over Espanyol. Bruno Gama put the Galicians ahead on 50 minutes, and Nelson Oliveira made sure of the three points in added time. The win saw Deportivo climb to 17th, a point ahead of Real Zaragoza, who suffered a late 2-1 loss to Athletic Bilbao. Helder Postiga gave Zaragoza the lead, but Fernando Llorente levelled with ten minutes to go and Ibai Gomez hit a last-gasp winner.
Basement side Mallorca lifted themselves off the bottom of the table and at the same time dented Real Betis’ European ambitions with a 1-0 win at the Iberostar. Israeli striker Tomer Hemed scored the only goal of the game on 21 minutes as Gregorio Manzano’s side moved to 19th, three points from safety with two games left to play.
The other two Gameweek 36 matches were played a fortnight ago, ahead of the meeting of the two Madrid clubs in the final of the Copa del Rey. Real Madrid hammered Malaga 6-2, while Atletico won 3-1 away at struggling Celta Vigo.
Real Madrid made an ideal start against Malaga when Raul Albiol headed in a Luka Modric corner after only two minutes. Roque Santa Cruz soon equalised, but Los Boquerones made life even harder for themselves when Sergio Sanchez gave away a penalty for a foul on Cristiano Ronaldo and was sent off.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero saved the Portugal star’s spot-kick with his foot, but sustained an ankle injury from the impact of Ronaldo’s shot and had to be replaced by Carlos Kameni. Ronaldo then made amends with a free-kick to restore Real’s lead. Mesut Ozil added a third, only for Antunes to pull a goal back for Malaga with a stunning 25-metre drive.
Karim Benzema made it 4-2 on the stroke of half-time before Modric hit Real’s fifth after the break. With a quarter of an hour to go, Martin Demichelis followed Sanchez down the tunnel after picking up a second yellow card, and Angel Di Maria beat Kameni in injury time to complete an emphatic win.
After a goalless first half, Atletico Madrid struck early against Celta Vigo, with Diego Costa on target following Koke’s corner and Miranda’s flick-on. Juanfran doubled the visitors’ advantage when his long-range effort was deflected into the net, before Augusto Fernandez kept Celta in the game with a goal six minutes from time before Radamel Falcao restored the two-goal cushion.