Barcelona eclipsed Real Madrid in the season’s first Clasico, while Atletico Madrid also won to remain just a point behind the table-topping Catalans.
Playing in his first Clasico, Neymar was on target after just 19 minutes to give Barcelona a deserved lead as Tata Martino’s men outplayed Real Madrid in the first half. Los Blancos improved in the second half, but could not prevent Alexis Sanchez adding a second for Barca with a sublime chip over the head of Diego Lopez. Substitute Jese Rodriguez grabbed a stoppage time consolation, but it was too little, too late for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Atletico Madrid thumped Betis 5-0 to keep up the pressure on Barca. Oliver Torres, making his first start for Atleti, opened the scoring after just 13 seconds at the Vicente Calderon. Betis kept the hosts at bay for the remainder of the first half, but were undone by a three-goal blitz in 12 second half minutes as David Villa struck twice in four minutes and Diego Costa added his 11th goal of the season. Gabi Fernandez made it five in stoppage time to drop Betis into the bottom three.
Villarreal maintained their challenge in fourth place, just two points behind Real Madrid, with a resounding 4–1 win over Valencia to cast doubts once again on coach Miroslav Djukic and consign his side to mid-table. The Yellow Submarine were two up before the break, with goals from Ikechuwku Uche and Hernan Perez. Giovani Dos Santos made it three after the restart and although Ricardo Costa gave Los Che a glimmer of hope with half an hour remaining, Dos Santos hit his second and Villarreal’s fourth six minutes from time.
Athletic Bilbao won a hard-fought three points at in-form Getafe, leap-frogging their opponents into fifth place as a result. Defender Aymeric Laporte scored the only goal of the game for the Basques in the eighth minute. Getafe missed a golden opportunity to equalise for after Adrian Colunga was brought down by Carlos Durpegi, but Diego Castro’s spot-kick was saved by Gorka Iraizoz. It was an eventful first-half for the Athletic goalkeeper, who limped off at the break and was replaced by Iago Herrerin for the second half.
Levante’s revival continued with a 3–0 victory over inconsistent Espanyol, who were unable to build on last week’s win against Atletico. A goal in each half from Nabil El Zhar, with one from Papa Diawara in between, proved enough to see off Los Periquitos.
Sevilla had a comfortable 2-1 win over struggling Osasuna, who played an hour with 10 men after Damia Abella received a straight red card for bringing down Kevin Gameiro. After a goalless first half, Ivan Rakitic gave Sevilla the lead and Jairo Samperio doubled it before a late Osasuna consolation from Oriol Riera.
Real Sociedad wiped away their Champions League woes by beating Almeria 3–0 at Anoeta. Antoine Griezmann was on target after just 13 minutes for La Real and doubled their lead with a header shortly after half-time. Jose Angel made it three to send Jagoba Arrasate’s men into the top half of the table. Still winless Almeria turned in another woeful defensive performance and are now six points adrift of safety at the foot of La Liga.
Malaga coach Bernd Schuster insisted there was no need to panic after his side crashed 5-0 at home to Celta Vigo. Alex Lopez opened the scoring for the Galicians in the fifth minute and Augusto Fernandez made it 2-0 before half-time. Lopez added his second before Nolito and Charles were also on target to complete the rout.
Rayo Vallecano also suffered a home defeat, beaten 3-0 by Valladolid, for whom Patrick Ebert, Javi Guerra and Daniel Larsson scored the goals, while Elche’s good run came to an end as they were defeated, also at home, by Granada. Manuel Iturra got the only goal of the game in the first half.
Editor’s note: For soccer fans in the United States, bookmark our La Liga TV and Internet schedule.
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