Both Real Madrid and Barcelona had to come from behind to secure victories, while Valencia and Sevilla suffered heavy defeats.
REAL MADRID 3-1 SPORTING GIJON
It seems the only way to motivate this Real side at the Bernabeu is to take the lead, almost making scoring against them a thankless task. Sporting were the latest team to find this out, as they took what is still being referred to as a ‘surprise’ lead after half an hour, with Miguel De Las Cuevas scoring from the spot after Sergio Ramos had handled in the box.
But it was a goal that merely woke Los Blancos from their slumber, as Gonzalo Higuain promptly levelled the scores seven minutes later. Sporting dug in, as should be expected from a team fighting relegation, but they were finally broken in the 74th minute, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 41st goal of the season.
Sporting’s day got worse when Roberto Canella finally picked up his second booking of the match, and Karim Benzema made sure Real took advantage by securing a big victory that keeps them four points clear going in to El Classico.
LEVANTE 1-2 BARCELONA
Barca also had a tough struggle on their hands, as they found a stubborn Levante side difficult to overcome at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia. Levante had already upset Real Madrid here at the start of the season, and threatened to do the same to their Catalan rivals, after Jose Barkero scored from the spot, with Sergio Busquets penalised for handball.
Barca had to look to a familiar source to bail them out, as Lionel Messi scored a curling shot after 64 minutes to tie the scores up again. He then scored the second penalty of the game, after Pedro Botelho was harshly deemed to have fouled Isaac Cuenca, to keep the pressure on at the top with the top-two clashing on Saturday night.
ESPANYOL 4-0 VALENCIA
After resurrecting their third place challenge in midweek against Rayo Vallecano, Valencia’s dismal 2012 returned once more, as Espanyol hammered them at Cornella-El Prat.
Cristian Gomez and Joan Verdu had Espanyol two goals to the good by half-time, and the story continued in similar fashion in the second period, with a further two goals being added by Alvaro Vazquez and Kalu Uche. Valencia hold on to third place for the time being, whilst Espanyol move into the clutch of five sides on 45 points, just one point behind sixth placed Osasuna.
GETAFE 5-1 SEVILLA
Both these sides are included in those five teams now, after Getafe destroyed a hapless Sevilla side that can’t seem to string a set of results together currently. It never looked like being such a one sided contest after 20 minutes, when Alvaro Negredo actually gave Sevilla the lead.
Miguel Torres ensured the sides went into the break level, before the second half onslaught took place to stun Sevilla. Medhi Lacen gave Getafe the lead within four minutes of the restart, before Miku netted a brace either side of Pedro Rios effort. It gives Getafe a shock chance of qualifying for Europe, after such a miserable first half of the season, while Sevilla must pick themselves up quickly to ensure their own challenge doesn’t falter once more.
RAYO VALLECANO 0-1 ATLETICO MADRID
After their Madrid derby failure, Atletico faced another Madrid rival in Rayo, who have been a surprise success story this season, especially on their own patch.
However, it was not to be for the Vallecas side, as Atletico put up a gritty display, with Falcao’s 22nd goal of the season proving enough to take Los Rojiblancos into the clutch on 45 points, while Rayo had of being surprise contenders for European qualification have fallen by the wayside.
ATHLETIC BILBAO 1-0 MALLORCA
The final side making up that bunch on 45 points are Athletic Bilbao, as they returned to winning ways in a hard fought encounter with Mallorca. With their Europa League semi final on their minds, Athletic could have been forgiven for taking their eyes off Mallorca, but did just enough to secure a big three points in their quest for a second successive European campaign.
Fernando Llorente got the only goal of the game after 12 minutes, with his 28th goal of the season, 17 of those in La Primera.
MALAGA 1-1 REAL SOCIEDAD
Malaga could have moved back into third following Valencia’s heavy defeat, but came up against an inspired goalkeeper in the form of Sociedad’s Claudio Bravo. The Chilean stopper came up with a string of wonderful saves to keep Malaga’s expensively assembled squad at bay and secure another point on the way to what is likely to be a comfortable survival.
Isco had given Malaga the lead with a deflected effort after 19 minutes and it looked like the points would stay on the Costa Del Sol, when Mikel Gonzalez saw red for two bookable offences on the stroke of half-time.
But Sociedad were level within five minutes of the restart through Xabi Prieto’s long-range strike, and Malaga couldn’t find a way past Bravo, as they finished the game a frustrated and confused side.
REAL ZARAGOZA 1-0 GRANADA
Real Zaragoza got their survival campaign back up and running, as they secured an important victory over a side they are looking to catch. Granada have been slipping recently, having fallen behind Villarreal now and are the team to catch for any side in the bottom three looking to escape the clutches of La Segunda.
Tomislav Dujmovic’s sixth minute strike was enough to separate the two sides, as Zaragoza cut the gap to five points between 17th and 18th, although they will miss Ruben Micael after he saw red in stoppage time.
VILLARREAL 1-1 RACING SANTANDER
After a home win over Malaga in midweek, Villarreal had a perfect chance to secure back-to-back wins against a hopeless Racing side, and move well clear of the drop zone. Alas, Villarreal are actually where they deserve on be on their performances this season and could not overcome the current whipping boys of the division.
Hernan Perez had given Villarreal the lead two minutes into the second half, but they let their concentration slip late on, as Lautaro Acosta headed home four minutes into stoppage time. Racing still sit ten points behind Villarreal and Granada, with only 15 points available, and look pretty much doomed.
REAL BETIS 1-0 OSASUNA
Betis are virtually safe now, as they overcame an Osasuna side that would have probably wrapped up their European qualification if only they could win away from home. Only two victories have been picked up on the road for the Pamplona outfit, and defeat number six came at the hands of Los Verdiblancos.
Ruben Castro has been a man in form for Bets this season, continuing his excellent record in last season’s Segunda to net 14 goals in La Primera, the latest being just enough to overcome Osasuna, who will have to deal without the talismanic Raul Garcia for three games, after he was sent off for serious foul play on the hour mark.
Tags: Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo, El Clasico, La Liga, Levante, Lionel Messi, Real Madrid, Sporting Gijon