La Liga Roundup, Gameweek 27: Real Madrid Make Light of Barcelona Shock
Real Madrid are three points clear at the top of La Liga after beating Levante on Sunday. Atletico Madrid won at Celta Vigo to trail the leaders by three points and Barcelona’s shock defeat at Valladolid leaves them a further point behind in third.
Cristiano Ronaldo hit his 24th goal of the Primera season as Real Madrid overcame Levante 3-0. The Portuguese put Los Blancos ahead before half-time, rising above his markers to head home Angel Di Maria’s corner. Carlo Ancelotti’s men dominated possession and made it 2-0 after the break as Marcelo cut in from the left to finish on 49 minutes. Levante’s David Navarro was sent off in the 64th minute for a crude lunge on Ronaldo from behind before Marcelo’s 81st-minute cross was diverted into his own goal by Nikos, unchallenged at the back post.
A two-goal second-half salvo from David Villa gave Atletico Madrid a 2-0 victory at Celta Vigo. The first half was a virtual non-event, but when a rejuvenated Atletico emerged, two goals in two minutes just after the hour mark from former Barca striker Villa gave Los Rojiblancos the win, which leaves them three points behind their capital city rivals.
Relegation-threatened Real Valladolid caused one of the upsets of the season after inflicting a 1-0 defeat on Barcelona. There were 40 points and 16 places between the two sides at kick-off, but struggling Valladolid emerged victorious thanks to Fausto Rossi’s first-half strike. The champions had several chances to get back into the game but could find no way past Valladolid keeper Diego Marino and, with just two weeks to go until El Clasico, Tata Martino’s men find themselves four points adrift of Real Madrid and in third place for the first time since 2011.
First-half goals from Fran Rico and Youssef El Arabi gave a Granada a well-deserved and morale-boosting 2-0 win over high-flying Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine had goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo to thank for keeping them in the game with early saves from Riki and Brahimi, but it was Riki who won a penalty on 22 minutes after colliding with visiting captain Bruno Soriano in the area. Rico scored from the spot midway through the first period and 10 minutes later provided El Arabi with a pass to double Granada’s lead and ensure the win.
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Valencia and Athletic Bilbao shared the points in an exciting 1-1 draw at Mestalla. Paco Alcacer converted a cross from Sofiane Feghouli to put Valencia ahead with his 10th goal of the season, despite appearing to be offside, but Aritz Aduriz levelled for Athletic from the spot after Ander Herrera had collided with Feghouli in the area. The result suited neither side with Valencia slipping five points behind seventh-placed Sevilla and Athletic unable to take full advantage of Villarreal’s defeat at Granada. Ernesto Valverde’s men are nevertheless now seven points ahead of the Yellow Submarine.
Struggling Rayo Vallecano came from behind to stun Real Sociedad 3-2 at Anoeta, denting the Basque side’s European prospects in the process. Inigo Martinez gave La Real a first minute lead but Rayo were level within three minutes when Joaquin Larrivey was fouled by Jose Angel and dispatched the penalty himself. La Real regained the lead through Ruben Pardo on the stroke of half-time, only for Alberto Bueno to level a second time for Rayo soon after the restart. Ruben Rochina put Rayo ahead with just under half an hour to go and the Madrid minnows hung on for a win that sees them remain in the drop zone but now level on points with Almeria and Valladolid.
Sevilla stayed in close touch with the Europa League places with a 3-1 away win over Almeria. Carlos Bacca, Daniel Carrico and Kevin Gameiro were all on target for Sevilla with Aleix Vidal claiming a late consolation for the home side as the result kept the pressure on sixth-placed Real Sociedad, who are two points clear of Sevilla in the overall standings. The result left struggling Almeria back in the bottom three but only one point from safety in a congested lower half of the table.
Espanyol gave their Europa League hopes a further boost with a comfortable 3-1 win over Elche at Cornella-El Prat. The hosts needed just two minutes to open the scoring, David Lopez heading them in front from a corner. Diego Colotto grabbed the second midway through the first half and Pizzi added a third after the break, although Juan Rafael Fuentes scored an own goal to give the visitors a late consolation. Espanyol are now seven points behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad, with Elche just three points above the bottom three.
Malaga boosted their Primera survival hopes with a 2-0 win at Osasuna. Samuel Garcia put Bernd Schuster’s side ahead early in the first half but Malaga suffered a setback just after the break when Jesus Gamez was dismissed for a second booking. Javi Gracia’s men failed to take advantage, however, and Nordin Amrabat doubled Malaga’s lead to seal the win. The result leaves both sides on 29 points, three clear of the relegation zone.
Bottom side Real Betis notched only their fourth success of the season as they secured a valuable 2-0 win over Getafe. The struggling Sevilla-based side took the lead in the 16th minute through Leo Baptistao before Ruben Castro made sure of the points before half-time. The result means Betis stay bottom of the table, but they have cut the gap to safety to eight points, while Getafe drop to 16th, only a point outside the bottom three.