Barcelona 2-1 Las Palmas
An injury to Lionel Messi overshadowed Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Las Palmas. The Argentinean forward is facing an absence for up to 8 weeks and boss Luis Enrique has admitted Messi’s absence may impact Barcelona’s signature style of tiki-taka football. Despite this, a Luis Suarez double secured the 3-points for Barcelona which puts them within one point of leaders Villarreal. Suarez could have made it 3, when a handball penalty decision was given against ex-Wigan/Everton defender Antolin Alcaraz. But the Brazilian Neymar – of whom has been in the headlines recently under a tax investigation – stepped up and took the penalty which went high into the stand. Viera clawed one back for Las Palmas in the 88’ minute but it was far too late at this point Barcelona has secured the three points.
Real Madrid 0-0 Malaga
Frustration for Rafa Benitez’s Madrid as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Malaga. Despite outplaying a lower-mid table Malaga side, Madrid failed to make an impact on the score line. Cristiano Ronaldo made 13 of Madrid’s 30 attempts on goal but failed to score his ninth of the season, his third match in a row without netting for Madrid. Interestingly, the Portuguese international is three goals away from beating Raul’s all-time goal scoring record. Madrid were leaders before going into the game, however have slipped down into third place behind Villarreal and Barcelona.
Sevilla 3-2 Rayo Vallecano
Goals galore has Sevilla took on Rayo Vallecano at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium. Goals from Gamerio, N’Zonzi and Konoplyanka secured Sevilla the three points despite a wonder goal from ex-Manchester United forward Bebe and a Javi Guerra strike. Vallecano had a late sending off in the 83’ minute when Antonio Amaya was shown a second yellow, Konoplyanka then secured in the victory for Sevilla in the 86’ minute with a free-kick low into the right hand corner ultimately deciding the fate of the game. A disappointing result for Vallecano who are currently in 11th position, five places above Sevilla.
Villarreal 1-0 Atletico Madrid
A 14’ minute Leo Baptistao strike ensured Villarreal went top of La Liga. Despite Atletico having more possession (51.8%), more shots on target (4), and crosses (26.7%) Villarreal held on and took their chances well. Baptistao with a clinical decider as he tucked away a Roberto Soldado cross into the bottom left corner. Atletico, the 2013-2014 winners of La Liga, are now slotted are in 5th positon despite winning three of their last five La Liga games. Whereas Villarreal go top making it 5 in 5 La Liga Victories in a row.
Eibar 1-1 Celta Vigo
4th place Celta Vigo were held to a 1-1 away draw at 7th placed Eibar. Eibar led the game from the 3’ minute through a Borja strike and looked as if they would take all three-points, until ex-Liverpool forward Iago Aspas equalised in the 76’ minute earning a point for his hometown club. Celta dominated possession throughout but lacked the clinical edge only having 2 shots on target from 9 attempts. The result now puts Celta level on points with Real (14) and sees the Os Celticos unbeaten in their last 6 La Liga matches.
Sporting Gijon 1-2 Real Betis
Betis have bounced back from their mid-week defeat to Deportivo with an impressive win over Gijon. Gijon had the better possession stats (56.3%) and had 10 shots on target from 19 attempts but the clinical nature of Ruben Castro secured the victory for Betis, who currently reside in 10th positon in La Liga. A disappointing result for Gijon who took the lead in the 17’ minute from a left-footed strike into the bottom right corner from Castro Garcia which was assisted by Croatian starlet Alen Hilalovic, who is currently on loan from Barcelona.
Deportivo 3-0 Espanyol
Deportivo sailed to an easy 3-0 victory over 9th placed Espanyol. An Alvaro own goal (14’) and a Lucas brace ensured the Galician club move within a Europa League spot. Espanyol’s luck went from bad to worse after Alvaro’s own goal, when Pape Diop was branded with his second yellow card of the day in the 79’ minute. Espanyol have now been beaten three times in their last six La Liga games, whereas Deportivo have only been beaten once in their last six (Gijon).