Week 22 of La Liga kicked off today with seven matches taking place throughout the course of the day. Five matches kicked off simultaneously with Athletic Bilbao welcoming Sporting Gijón to San Mames, Racing Santander visiting Real Zaragoza, Getafe playing host to Deportivo la Coruña, Almería taking on Espanyol at the Mediterráneo and Osasuna welcoming Mallorca to the Reyno de Navarra. Those were later followed by Villarreal welcoming Levante to El Madrigal and Atlético Madrid visiting Barcelona at the Camp Nou. There was a total 21 goals scored on the day.
Athletic Bilbao welcomed a visit from a Sporting Gijón, who were on the up, winning their last three games. However, they were to also take on an Athletic side that have been impressive at home and were themselves in good form, undefeated in their last four and victorious in the last three. The home team would extend their undefeated streak with a emphatic 3-0 win against Sporting. David López would get the hosts off to a great start in the 16th minute from the penalty spot after Arnolin “sumo wrestled” Llorente in the area and was subsequently sent off. Toquero would double that lead in the 27th minute after a good passage of play between himself, Llorente and Muniain with the latter driving pass his defender and into the box, cutting the ball back for Toquero to knock past Cuellar. Llorente would add to the lead in the 74th minute when once again, little Muniain was at the core of the buildup, picking out Susaeta on the left of the box, who then delivered a pin-point low cross for Llorente to knock into the net from close range.
Racing Santander travelled to Aragon to face Real Zaragoza in what was a pretty even match. Both teams played to a 1-1 draw with Christian giving the away team the lead in the 14th minute, but his goal would later be cancelled out by Zaragoza’s Boutahar in the 40th minute.
After their three game losing streak, Getafe would get back to winning ways when they welcomed Deportivo la Coruña to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. The home team ran out 4-1 winners on the day as Adrian Colunga got them off to a start in the 19th minute. He later doubled that lead in the 26th minute. Miku would add another on the stroke of half time for the hosts as they went into the break with a three goal lead. In the 57th minute, Pedro Ríos would make it 4-0 to the home team. The away team would get a consolation goal through Riki in the 68th minute via the penalty spot.
Almería are once again showed their willingness to fight for their first division lives as the relegation candidates stunned Espanyol in a 3-2 win. The home team would be quick off the mark when Silva scored in the fifth minute which was then doubled two minutes later by Uche. Bernadello would add a third in the 18th minute handing the hosts a comfortable 3-0 lead. However, complacency would kick in for the hosts and as such Espanyol tried for the comeback with Verdú pulling a goal back in the 34th minute and Vázquez with another in the 49th minute. However, the home team would hold on for the remainder of the match to secure all three points.
Osasuna were held to a 1-1 draw with Mallorca after Flaño scored an early goal for the host in the 8th minute, however, Castro’s 37th minute equalizer was enough for the Islanders to come away with a point.
Villarreal welcomed Levante to El Madrigal in a game that was expected to be a fairly easy one for the hosts. However, it turned out to be an upset for the home side as they suffered their first home defeat of the season. Levante started out the brighter of the two sides in the first half and should perhaps have scored the opener in the 13th minute through Stuani but his header went wide of the target. The away side would go on to create a few good opportunities in the first half but were unfortunate to head into the break all knotted up. However, the visitors would begin the second half as they did the first and three minutes in bagged a goal, thanks to Valdo after he side stepped Diego López and lifted the ball into the net for the opener. The hosts would immediately try to respond but to no avail and in the 60th minute were fortunate to still be down by only a goal as Marchena knocked over Xisco in the penalty area but the call wasn’t given and the hosts were allowed to play on. Despite their efforts late on, Villarreal would stumble to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of their struggling cross-town rivals. It was nevertheless a good and deserved win for the away side.
In Saturday’s final game La Liga’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would pay a visit to league leaders Barcelona in the hopes of ending their recent string of defeats both at the Camp Nou and in the current campaign. However, it would all go wrong and within 17 minutes would concede a goal against the home side courtesy of the Argentine wizard; Messi came running down the right, cutting inside and rasped a left-footed shot toward goal from just outside the box, beating De Gea at the near post. Ten minutes later and it would again be Messi popping up, this time from close range as Villa’s ball into the box managed to find its way through to the little fellow, making it 2-0. On the stroke of half time, Agüero drove past Dani Alves taking the ball to the byline and managed to get a cross in before the Brazilian hacked him down and probably should have seen red but instead was shown a yellow. It was all too easy for the hosts in the first half as they went in at the half with a comfortable 2-0 lead. Atlético would start out the half brightly and created some good opportunities but were thwarted. The away side were completely out of ideas by the 60th minute and would solely rely on catching the Blaugrana on the counter. However, that game plan wouldn’t work and Messi would score his hat-trick in the 79th minute after Villa came dashing into the box and was well defended by De Gea but the ball found its way through to Messi, who again had an easy task at stabbing the ball home. Another defeat for the visitors and another win for Barcelona, who have now broken the record for most consecutive league wins in a season with 16, surpassing Real Madrid’s record of 15. The home side have also stretched their lead over second place Real Madrid to ten.