La Liga Roundup, Gameweek 30: Barca Bounce Back as Sevilla Derail Madrid
Real Madrid suffered a second successive defeat, losing at Sevilla as Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both gained victories to pull clear of Los Blancos in the Spanish title race, but Barca’s success was marred by a serious injury to goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
Barcelona followed their 4-3 Clasico victory on Sunday by beating Celta Vigo 3-0 at Camp Nou. Barca went ahead through Neymar’s sixth minute goal and Lionel Messi doubled the Catalans’ advantage on the half-hour before Neymar struck again midway through the second period to deal the points. The night was tarnished for Tata Martino’s men, however, after Fabian Orellana’s free-kick appeared to catch Victor Valdes wrong-footed. Although the goalkeeper was able to make the save, he had to dive forward to gather the rebound, and suffered what turned out to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the process.
The injury to Valdes looks certain to have ended his career at Camp Nou, the goalkeeper already having announced that this season would be his last with the Catalans. To make matters worse, Valdes will also miss out on a place in Spain’s World Cup squad in Brazil in the summer.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid top La Liga on 73 points, just a point ahead of Barcelona, after Diego Costa’s 63rd minute header was enough to give them all three points against Granada at the Vicente Calderon.
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Cristiano Ronaldo put Real Madrid in front at Sevilla with a 15th minute deflected free-kick after he had been fouled by Andujar Coke, but the home side Sevilla responded almost immediately through Carlos Bacca, and in the 72nd minute some superb skill from Ivan Rakitic set up Bacca for his and Sevilla’s second. It was a record sixth straight win for Unai Emery’s side, elevating them to fifth, six points behind Athletic Bilbao in fourth, while the defeat leaves Los Blancos third, two points behind Barcelona.
Athletic Bilbao were held to 0-0 draw at struggling Elche, who remain just three points clear of the drop zone. Athletic’s ability to break down Elche, who had not conceded any goals in their previous five home games, was made harder by the strong wind blowing over the Martinez Valera, but Fran Escriba’s men also worked hard to deny the Basques any clear-cut scoring opportunities.
A Carlos Vela goal allowed Real Sociedad to take the spoils against Real Valladolid at Anoeta and return to winning ways after their agonising defeat at Almeria on Monday, but the result leaves Juan Ignacio Martinez’s side languishing in the relegation zone, two points from safety. Vela struck midway through the first half, punishing the visitors who failing to convert possession into chances.
Jeremy Perbet’s early strike proved enough for Villarreal to leave the Coliseum Alfonso Perez with three points after beating relegation-threatened Getafe. The Frenchman fired home in the fifth minute as the Yellow Submarine ended a run of four matches without a win to reignite their stuttering push for a Europa League spot. The 1-0 defeat leaves Getafe coach Cosmin Contra still searching for his first win since taking charge a fortnight ago.
Espanyol took three points from their visit to La Rosaleda as they beat Malaga 2-1 in controversial circumstances. Pizzi hit the winning goal for the Catalans with just a quarter of an hour remaining, but Malaga could have been awarded a penalty just seconds before when Hector Moreno appeared to acrobatically kick Roque Santa Cruz in the penalty area.
The goal restored Espanyol’s lead, with Sergio Garcia having put the visitors in front in the 32nd minute, only for Pablo Perez to equalise two minutes later for the hosts. The Argentinian midfielder turned villain, however, when he was sent off just after Pizzi’s goal for a second bookable offence. The result means Espanyol move up to eighth, while Malaga are 14th, just four points clear of the danger zone.
Almeria fought back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia to further aid their bid to avoid a hasty return to La Segunda. Seydou Keita gave Los Che the lead in the first minute and Eduardo Vargas extended the advantage after half an hour as the Andalusians looked to be heading for defeat. Two goals in as many second-half minutes, however, the first from Oscar Diaz followed immediately by Miguel Corona’s effort, rescued a point for Francisco Rodriguez’s men that keeps them two points clear of the danger zone.
A late penalty from Joaquin Larrivey condemned Osasuna to a fifth straight defeat at the hands of rapidly improving fellow strugglers Rayo Vallecano, who moved five points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win. A dour encounter seemed destined to finish goalless until Abella Damia felled Jose Fernandez in the area and Larrivey stepped up to place his spot-kick in the bottom left-hand corner of the net. The defeat leaves Osasuna just a point above the drop zone.
Rock-bottom Real Betis registered their first away victory of the season, winning 3-1 at Levante, but remain rooted to the foot of the table, seven points adrift of safety. Salva Sevilla put Betis ahead on 11 minutes, only for Pape Diop to level midway through the first period for Levante. Second-half goals from Jorge Molina and Ruben Castro ensured Betis secured only their fifth win of the campaign.