Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both dropped points but Real Madrid won again to close the gap on La Liga’s top two to a point and leave all three clubs embroiled in a three horse-race for the Spanish title.
Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw by Levante at the Cuitat de Valencia. The home side took a shock lead in the 10th minute with Loukas Vyntra’s headed goal but Barca quickly levelled when Gerard Pique headed in from close range nine minutes later. Levante coach Joaquin Caparros vowed before the game to make Barcelona suffer and his men did just that, defending in numbers and frustrating the champions, who were unable to break through, even with Lionel Messi back in harness.
Atletico Madrid were held 1-1 at the Vicente Calderon by Sevilla, who are now unbeaten in eight games. David Villa put Atleti ahead after 18 minutes but Diego Simeone’s men were unable to improve on their lead. Defender Juanfran rashly impeded Carlos Bacca 20 minutes before the end and Ivan Rakitic beat Thibaut Courtois from the spot for his ninth goal of the season. Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno received a straight red late on, as Unai Emery’s side remained seventh and in contention for a European place.
Real Madrid brushed aside Real Betis, winning 5-0 at the Benito Villamarin to leave the hosts rooted to the bottom of La Liga. Gareth Bale scored his first goal in six weeks, firing home a free-kick midway through the first half after Cristiano Ronaldo had opened the scoring with a thunderous strike from distance. Karim Benzema widened the gap further before the break, taking advantage of a great move from Luka Modric and in the second half Angel Di Maria scored his second goal in as many games before substitute Alvaro Morata piled further misery on Betis.
The result was too much for the Betis hierarchy, who showed coach Juan Carlos Garrido the door following the defeat, just 48 days after he had replaced the sacked Pepe Mel.
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Athletic Bilbao recovered after going a goal down to win 4-2 against Real Valladolid at San Mames holding on to the Champions League qualifying spot as a result. Oscar Gonzalez gave the visitors an early lead, which they held until the 65th minute when Ibai Gomez struck Athletic’s equaliser. Oscar De Marcos put the Basques ahead with 15 minutes left, Gomez added his second and their third and Ander Herrera made it four late on. Valdet Rama grabbed a stoppage time consolation, but Valladolid remain in the bottom three.