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La Liga Roundup, Gameweek 17: Pedro’s Treble as Barca Hit Five

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both had to come from behind to win their respective matches in the final game week before the mid-season break. As a result, the two clubs remain level on points at the top of La Liga, with Barca edging ahead thanks to a marginally superior goal difference. Real Madrid stay five points behind the top two after beating Valencia, while Athletic Bilbao’s win over Rayo Vallecano keeps them in the final Champions League berth. Real Sociedad, who beat Granada, and Villarreal, who lost to Sevilla, occupy the two Europa League slots.

Barcelona found themselves 2-0 down after just 15 minutes at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez as defenders Sergio Escudero and Lisandro Lopez gave Getafe a shock lead against the champions. Barca responded in the best way possible, however, as Pedro Rodriguez hit a nine minute hat-trick to give La Blaugrana a half-time lead. Cesc Fabregas extended their advantage on 68 minutes and it was 5-2 when Fabregas scored his second from the spot with 18 minutes remaining after Pedro was fouled by Lopez.

Atletico Madrid overcame battling Levante 3-2 despite going a goal behind with less than two minutes on the clock as Andreas Ivanschitz stunned the Vicente Calderon with an early goal for the visitors. Diego Godin levelled with a header and Diego Costa put Atleti in front two minutes into the second half, but Pedro Rios’ fine solo effort on 57 minutes restored parity. Costa fired home a 77th-minute penalty, his 19th Primera goal this season, to preserve all three points for Diego Simeone’s men.

Valencia caretaker boss Nico Estevez saw his men put on a spirited display in an exciting game against Real Madrid at Mestalla, but they were defeated 3-2, despite some poor defending in Los Blancos’ backline. Angel Di Maria put Madrid ahead on 28 minutes, but Los Che hit back to level six minutes later through Pablo Piatti. Cristiano Ronaldo restored the visitors’ lead, only for Jeremy Mathieu to exploit a woeful Madrid defence to head a second equaliser for Valencia. The home side’s hopes of a point were dispelled, though, when substitute Jese Rodriguez grabbed the winner eight minutes from time.

Athletic Bilbao dominated their match with Rayo Vallecano at San Mames much more convincingly than the 2–1 scoreline suggests. Miko San Jose gave the Basques a 33rd minute lead, but Rayo bounced back to equalise after the break when Athletic’s defence failed to clear their lines and Alberto Bueno stabbed the ball home. Parity was short-lived, however, and Mikel Rico struck on 66 minutes to restore Athletic’s lead and seal the three points.

A goal in each half from Carlos Vela saw Real Sociedad move into fifth with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Granada at Los Carmenes. The Mexican striker opened the scoring after 29 minutes, lobbing the ball home from the edge of the 18-yard box, before Piti equalised for the home side with a 25-yard thunderbolt. Antoine Griezmann restored La Real’s lead minutes ahead of half-time before Vela struck again midway through the second half with his ninth of the season.

Sevilla chalked up their fourth win in five games, defeating Villarreal at El Madrigal to move up to seventh place in the table, two points behind the Yellow Submarine. Juan Cala headed the visitors into the lead in the 24th minute from a set piece, and with 19 minutes remaining Carlos Bacca made sure of the points by taking advantage of a defensive error. Villarreal were awarded a penalty late on when Jaume Costa was fouled by Cala, and the defender was shown a straight card. Substitute Jeremy Perbet sent Beto the wrong way from the spot but Sevilla held on for the win.

Espanyol produced a fine performance to brush aside Real Valladolid 4-2 at Cornella-El Prat. Sergio Garcia got the ball rolling for Javier Aguirre’s side by scoring from the spot after just five minutes after Jesus Rueda tripped Christian Stuani, who in turn doubled the lead half an hour later. Victor Sanchez made sure of the points with a third goal on 67 minutes, and Stuani got his second and Espanyol’s fourth shortly afterwards. Javi Guerra and Victor Perez each pulled two late goals back for Valladolid as Espanyol took their foot of the gas, but it was an impressive win for Los Periquitos. 

Malaga recorded back-to-back victories in La Liga for the first time since February as Ignacio Camacho’s early goal helped see off 10-man Elche. However, they received an early boost when, with their first serious attempt on goal, Camacho got on the end of Duda’s curling free-kick to glance a header past home goalkeeper Tono and put the Andalusians in front. Elche suffered a major blow in the 61st minute when they lost Damian Suarez to a red card for a foul on Malaga striker Samu Garcia and were unable to avoid a third successive defeat.

An early goal from Ramon Azeez was enough for Almeria to claim a much-needed win over Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin. Azeez drilled a strike from 30 yards in only the fourth minute, enabling Almeria to climb out of the bottom three and into 16th place while Betis remain rooted to the bottom of the table. Despite a flurry of missed chances by both sides, Almeria kept their slender lead and were able to celebrate their fourth win of the season.

Celta Vigo and Osasuna shared the points in a 1-1 draw at El Balaidos. Emiliano Armenteros gave the visitors the lead on 17 minutes but Augusto Fernandez equalised before half-time. The draw leaves Osasuna in the bottom three, while Celta are 15th.

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