As the weekend came to a close, leaders Barcelona extended their lead over rivals Real Madrid to 4 points. While, both Villarreal and Valencia picked up home victories.
Saturday evening saw four matches kick off simultaneously. A struggling Sporting Gijón welcomed mid-table Hércules to El Molinón. Interestingly, Hércules have lost 11 of their last 17 games there but after coming off that morale boosting win over Atlético last Monday, the Alicante side were hoping they could change that luck. However, the visitors’ misfortune would continue and Sporting secured their first win at home since week 7 of the competition, finally managed a clean sheet in 11 games and also managed to score more than one goal in a match since round 7. David Barral would score this season’s quickest goal just 26 seconds into the match and Nacho Cases doubled the lead in the 31st minute to round off an all important win for the rojiblancos.
Villarreal welcomed Osasuna to El Madrigal. The visitors are the league’s worst team this season and are yet to record a home victory which they were hoping to change when they took on the yellow submarines, who were trying to bounce back from a hard fought 4-2 loss last weekend. However, the Pamplona team’s poor road form would continue when they slumped to a 4-2 defeat. Rubén got the home team off to a lovely start in the 22nd minute, after an exquisite play from Valero out on the left wing and a magnificent cross to go with it, found the head of the youngster, who was unmarked at the far post to power a header past Ricardo. The home team had a few more chances to score a second but Ricardo would deny them time and again and the score would hold until two minutes into the 2nd half when Vadócz equalized for the away team. However, that score would not hold for very long and Cani, with perhaps the best goal on the weekend, scored an absolute beauty from the half way line to restore the home side’s lead. Fifteen minutes later, Valero would once again have a hand in his team’s 3rd goal delivering a corner that was nodded across the face of goal by Rubén, which, Capdevila managed to nod past Ricardo, inches from the goal line. In an effort to try and get a result Camacho sent in Calleja for the quiet Damiá in the 65th minute and within seven minutes Calleja would find himself on the score sheet, following some delightful skill from Camuñas, who managed to beat three defenders and then delivered a cross to the back post that found Calleja unmarked to hit on the volley, pulling the visitors back within a goal. Despite their efforts Osasuna would go on to concede another goal set up by Villarreal’s most influential player on the night, Valero, from another corner, that found the head of Gonzalo in the 84th minute. Osasuna failed to cope with Villarreal’s set pieces and as such conceded three goals that came from set piece plays. Otherwise, they may well have earned a victory considering how well Ricardo played, who kept denying the home team a goal from open play.
Real Sociedad made the trip to Madrid to take on Getafe in the Coliseum- a place that Getafe have won 56% of their games this season. Also, Real Sociedad has the 8th worst or 13th best away record, winning 22% of their road games this season and had lost their last three visits to Getafe. However, that would all change for the visitors and they would run out 4-0 winners against Míchel’s team. Prieto got the visitors off to a start in the 10th minute from the penalty spot, the young French man, Griezmann would score a fabulous goal to double their lead in the 32nd minute and Aranburu would score a quick double salvo in the 88th and 90th minute for the visitors.
A bottom of the table clash saw two relegation candidates-Zaragoza and Levante, battling it out. Gabi scored the game winner on the stroke of half time, handing the blanquillos their 3rd win of the season.
Racing Santander travelled to the Basque country to take on Athletic Bilbao in the Cathedral. Eight minutes into the match and Javi Martínez would rise high above everybody to power a header past Toño. Two minutes later and wonder kid, Muniain would hit a wonder strike for Bilbao’s 2nd and the home team would be cruising until the 74th minute when Racing pulled a goal back through Bolado. The game would end 2-1 to the hosts. Llorente suffered a contusion in the game and Munitis was sent off in the 89th minute for retaliating against Javi Martínez.
Espanyol picked up their 3rd away win this season when they beat Sevilla 2-1 in Saturday’s final game. Callejón would give the visitors the lead in the 41st minute when he latched on to a long ball over the top taking one touch lifting it over Varas’s head to make it 1-0. Callejón would do it again in the 78th minute when Luis García launched a quick free-kick over the top for him to run onto and slot the ball into the bottom corner for goal number two. Negredo would pull a goal back for Sevilla in stoppage time with a tremendous volley over Kaméni but too little, too late for the hosts.
Valencia would pick up their 6th home win of the campaign when they defeated Deportivo 2-0 on Sunday evening. However, the home fans would have to wait until the 78th minute to see their team take the lead through Mathieu with Pablo doubling that lead in stoppage time.
Real Madrid were largely disappointing when they visited relegation candidates Almería and threw away two vital points. The first half would see a rather aggressive Almería side and an overly anxious Real Madrid team. Chances were few and far apart for both teams and the best chance of the first half would fall to the away team in the 40th minute when Kaká delivered a precise ball for Ronaldo to hit on the volley but Diego Alves was there to deny the Portuguese. The rebound fell in the path of Di María but he mis-kicked horrendously, sending the ball way over the bar. Both teams would go into the break tied at 0-0 and we would see more of the same in the 2nd half. However, the home team would give their fans something to cheer about in the 60th minute when Ulloa managed to blast one into the bottom corner of the net after some horrendous defending from the whites. As such, Granero was sent on to try and add to the creativity of the team and the former Cantera player would comply, pulling his team level in the 79th minute after fellow substitute Benzema held the ball up well on the edge of the area, slipping in the Spaniard, who released an absolute humdinger. The away side would try to push on for the winner and deep into stoppage time Ronaldo would have that opportunity from a free-kick on the edge of the area but his effort cannoned back off the cross-bar. Very anticlimactic match from los merengues.
In Sunday’s final game, Barcelona welcomed Málaga to the Camp Nou, in a game that turned out to be an easy one for the blaugrana. Eight minutes in and Iniesta would put the home side up a goal with a strike from just outside the box that needed a touch off the post to go in. Ten minutes later and Messi would provide an assist for Villa who finished between the wickets of Asenjo for the hosts’ 2nd. In the 36th minute, Messi would once again be instrumental in the home team’s 3rd goal, slipping Iniesta in on goal but the Spaniard was denied by Asenjo, however, Pedro would latch on to the rebound and tucked it away. In the 68th minute, debutant, Baptista earned his team a free-kick, which Duda stepped up to take, perfectly placing it, to peg a goal back for his team. In spite of the goal Barcelona would put the game out of reach for the away team when Xavi played in Villa, who timed his run to perfection and rounded Asenjo to make it 4-1.
The round isn’t over just yet as Atlético Madrid welcome a tough Mallorca side to the Vicente Calderón.
As the table stands: Barcelona extended their lead over Real Madrid and now holds a 4 point cushion, while both Villarreal and Valencia continue to lock in at 3rd and 4th respectively. Both Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao hold on to the final European spots. Although, Atlético Madrid have the chance to climb into 6th with a win on Monday night. At the bottom, Real Zaragoza climbed up to 18th with their win over Levante, while the granotes fell to 17th and despite their draw, Almería remain bottom of the table with 14 points.