Despite dropping points in a 1-1 draw at Murcia, Real Madrid stay top of La Liga for another week as Villarreal failed to win at home to Almeria. Barcelona move to within two points of the leaders after beating Recreativo at Camp Nou.
Summaries from all 10 week-end matches after the jump.
Madrid took the lead after just nine minutes in their game when a superb volleyed cross from Guti found Robinho at the far post and the Brazilian headed home for his fifth goal of the season. After the goal it looked like Madrid’s clear superiority would lead to a comfortable win, but unexpectedly Madrid dropped their rhythm and allowed Murcia to work their way back into the game.
Murcia got their reward just after half time when from a corner no-one picked up De Lucas making a late run into the area, and his header gave Casillas no chance. With less than ten minutes to go Madrid were reduced to ten men. Guti was fouled from behind, and in an action that was reminiscent of David Beckham in the 1998 World Cup, Guti kicked out from on the floor making contact with Arzo, and the referee had no hesitation in showing the red card. Madrid almost paid dearly in the 90th minute when Goitom missed a golden chance for a winner, Casillas came out well to narrow the angle and Goitom attempted to flick the ball over the Madrid goalie’s head but he got it wrong and sent the ball wide.
Villarreal would have gone top of the league for the first time in their history if they had been capable of beating Almeria at home. Nihat put the home team in front after 13 minutes after a fine run and pass from Guille Franco. However, Almeria scored the equalizer early in the second half when Negredo turned in Lopez Rekarte’s cross. Villarreal couldn’t find a winner and the game ended 1-1, so Villarreal stay in second place, one point behind Madrid.
Barça kept up the pressure on the top two by beating Recreativo de Huelva 3-0. Barça struggled for long periods to create chances but after 64 minutes Gabi Milito headed home from a corner to make it 1-0. Seventeen-year-old substitute Bojan Krkic then scored a second a couple of minutes later after good work from Xavi and Thierry Henry. With ten minutes to go a penetrating run from Leo Messi ended with him being brought down for a penalty, Messi took the kick himself and coolly beat Sorrentino the Recreativo goalkeeper. For a full report on the game visit – http://fcbnews.com/barca-3-recreativo-0/
Seven goal thrillers are becoming the norm at the Vicente Calderon where Atletico Madrid played host to Valladolid. Maniche gave Atletico an early lead and Victor equalized for Valladolid after 40 minutes. There was an explosive start to the second half; first Sisi put the visitors in front on 48 minutes, Maxi Rodriguez brought the scores level a couple of minutes later only for Llorente to restore Valladolid’s lead on 54 minutes. Once again the lead only lasted two minutes before Maxi Rodriguez made it 3-3. On 72 minutes Atletico defender Valera was sent off for his second bookable offence. Then in the 92nd minute Atletico’s ten men won it thanks to a headed own goal from Pedro Lopez. The win takes Atletico into fifth place in the table.
There were also seven goals in the bottom of the table clash between Levante and Betis. Two early goals from Arzu and Edu gave Betis a 0-2 advantage, but the bottom club pulled back to 2-2 before half time thanks to goals from Tommassi and Riga. In the 49th minute Riga got his second of the game to put Levante in front, but two minutes later Pavone levelled the score for Betis. With ten minutes left Javi Fuego scored what turned out to be the winner for Levante, and there was still time for Betis defender Juanito to be sent off. This was Levante’s second win of the season but they are still bottom four points behind Betis.
Back at the top end of the table, Espanyol moved into fourth place after winning 1-2 at Osasuna. Angel on 30 minutes and Valdo three minutes later gave the visitors a commanding lead. Portillo pulled one back for Osasuna in the second half but it wasn’t enough. Espanyol have now gone nine games unbeaten and next Saturday they play hosts to Barça on Montjuic. A win for Espanyol would see them overtake their neighbours.
Sevilla continue with their irregular form going down 1-2 at home to Mallorca. Two fine first half goals from Ibagaza and Varela gave the islanders a 0-2 lead at half time. Freddie Kanoute pulled one back after 49 minutes but a superb goalkeeping display from the wonderfully named Germán Lux in the Mallorca goal prevented Sevilla from finding an equalizer despite Mallorca playing the last 15 minutes with a man less due to Varela being sent off.
Racing de Santander beat Valencia 1-0 through a goal on 70 minutes from Jorge Lopez who volleyed home from outside the penalty area, Valencia keeper Santi Cañizares should have done more to keep the ball out. Racing move to within a point of Valencia who drop down to sixth in the table.
Struggling teams Athletic Bilbao and Deportivo shared four goals at San Mames. An own goal from Barragan gave Athletic a 1-0 lead at half time, and when David Lopez made it 2-0 after 53 minutes it looked as though the points would stay in Bilbao. However, Riki pulled one back for the visitors after 62 minutes, and then in the last minute Taborda scored to earn a point for Depor.
In the last game of the weekend Zaragoza and Getafe drew 1-1 in La Romareda. Sousa scored first for Getafe after 64 minutes and Getafe probably deserved to take all three points. However, a horrible mistake from their goalkeeper, Pato Abbondanzieri, allowed Zaragoza to equalize through D’Alessandro.
Top Six: Real Madrid 29 points, Villarreal 28, Barcelona 27, Espanyol 25, Atletico Madrid 24, Valencia 24.
Top Scorers: Eight goals: Luis Fabiano, Messi; Seven goals: Aguero, Rossi, Güiza.
Nig writes at the FC Barcelona Blog