La Liga Roundup, Gameweek 33: Madrid Clubs First and Second as Barca Crash at Granada
Barcelona slumped to defeat at Granada and both Madrid sides took full advantage to pile more pressure on Barca and their coach Tata Martino. Real Madrid’s emphatic victory over Almeria and Atletico’s win at Getafe mean Los Colchoneros are three points ahead of Los Blancos and four clear of La Blaugrana.
A below par Atletico Madrid won 2-0 against Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez to remain in first place, but victory came at a price after top-scorer Diego Costa sustained a gash to his leg after colliding with a post in scoring his side’s second goal. The Brazilian was stretchered off, but Atletico quickly played down concerns that the injury might be anything more serious. Diego Simeone’s struggled to break down their relegation-threatened local rivals, with Diego Godin’s goal the only highlight of a poor first half. Getafe had Angel Lafita and Alexis dismissed in the second half and Costa missed a penalty before making amends with his late goal.
Real Madrid strolled to a 4-0 win over relegation-haunted Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu. It was Los Blancos’ third successive win in La Liga, a run that has seen them score 13 times without reply. Angel di Maria opened the scoring after 28 minutes, set up by Nacho before cutting across the box to curl an exquisite left-footed effort past Esteban. Gareth Bale fired in the second after 53 and Isco added a third just three minutes later, chesting down a pass from Karim Benzema before smashing home at the near post. Almeria continued to offer little attacking threat in a one-sided encounter and Alvaro Morata rounded off the win five minutes from time, lifting Asier Illarramendi’s pass over Esteban.
Barcelona completed a nightmare week after their Champions League elimination, going down 1-0 to Granada at Los Carmenes. The game was settled by Yacine Brahimi’s 15th-minute strike, the Algerian racing through Barca’s makeshift defence before slotting past Jose Manuel Pinto. Tata Martino opted to start without Xavi Hernandez and first-choice full-backs Dani Alves and Jordi Alba and fielded Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano in central defence. Barca were unable to respond, despite monopolising possession, and when they did get through they found Granada goalkeeper Orestis Karnesis, making only his second start of the season, in imperious form.
Athletic Bilbao remain on course for Champions League football next season after a convincing 3-0 win over Malaga at San Mames. Aritz Aduriz fired the Basques ahead after just four minutes and added a second straight after the break as Ernesto Valverde’s side took control of the game. Ander Herrera hit a third with half an hour remaining, with the help of an uncharacteristic error by Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero. The win sees Athletic maintain their six-point lead ahead of Sevilla, while Malaga are a comfortable seven points above the bottom three despite suffering their 15th defeat of the season.
Real Betis sunk deeper into the relegation mire with a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of city rivals Sevilla. Betis started brightly against their neighbours, who have now beaten them three times this season, having knocked them out of the Europa League on penalties last month. The game turned, however, when Betis had Juan Carlos sent off after 28 minutes for a foul on Carlos Bacca. Kevin Gameiro buried the resulting penalty and the Frenchman sealed the win eight minutes from time with a close-range finish. Sevilla have now won eight of their last nine games in La Liga, while Betis are 10 points from safety with just five games remaining.
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Celta Vigo fought back twice to salvage a 2-2 draw from a dramatic game with Real Sociedad, despite playing the second half with 10 men. Sergio Canales put the Basques in front early on, but their lead was cancelled out by Nolito from the penalty spot after 38 minutes. Antoine Griezmann restored the visitors’ lead with an emphatic finish just before the interval it got worse for Celta when Jon Aurtenetxe’s wreckless tackle on Carlos Vela was punished by a red card in the 46th minute. Substitute Santi Mina levelled with eight minutes to rescue a point for Celta and deny Real Sociedad victory.
Jeremy Perbet headed a winner for Villarreal deep into stoppage-time as the Yellow Submarine beat Levante 1-0 to keep alive their hopes of securing automatic qualification for the Europa League. The game looked to be heading for a goalless draw well into the 95th minute, when Perbet nodded Manuel Trigueros’ right-wing cross into the bottom corner beyond Keylor Navas.
Valencia extended their unbeaten run to three games with a 2-1 victory over struggling Elche. Goals from Pablo Piatti and Dani Parejo won the game for the home side either side of Ferran Corominas’ equaliser, while Damian Suarez missed a second-half penalty for the visitors. Valencia’s season is effectively over, with little prospect of them securing a Europa League spot, while Elche are just four points clear of the relegation zone.
Espanyol were held to a 2-2 draw by Rayo Vallecano at Cornella El-Prat. Christian Stuani gave the Catalans an early lead but goals from Iago Falque and Joaquin Larrivey either side of half-time turned the tide Rayo’s way, before Diego Colotto grabbed a late equaliser with two minutes remaining. The result moves Rayo a step closer to safety, six points clear of the drop zone in 14th place, while Espanyol are safe in ninth position.
Relegation strugglers Osasuna and Real Valladolid had to settle for a point each in a dour goalless encounter in Pamplona. Alvaro Cejudo’s long-range effort which hit the crossbar early on for Osasuna was as close as either side went to breaking the deadlock, but the draw did little to help either side’s battle to avoid the drop. Valladolid moved one point clear of the bottom three, with the Navarrans just one place and two points better off.