Barca have title in sight

A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Liga as Barcelona left it late to see off Levante.

Last Updated: 21/04/13 at 22:50 Post Comment

Cesc Fabregas and Barcelona celebrate their late leveller

Cesc Fabregas and Barcelona celebrate their late leveller

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Cesc Fabregas' 84th-minute strike earned a below-par Barcelona a narrow victory over Levante at the Nou Camp to restore the Catalan club's 13-point advantage at the Primera Division summit.

David Villa had seen a 16th-minute penalty saved by Keylor Navas, and that looked like it would prove a costly miss as Barca - perhaps with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich - struggled to break down a spirited Levante defence before Fabregas' late breakthrough.

The win left Barcelona 13 points clear of second-placed Madrid, who beat Real Betis 3-1 earlier to briefly reduce the gap, and meant Tito Vilanova's side could win the title next weekend.

Mesut Ozil scored twice to ensure Real Madrid will go into their Champions League semi-final clash with Borussia Dortmund on the back of a Primera Division win as they saw off Real Betis 3-1.

Germany international Ozil broke the deadlock against Real Betis on the stroke of half-time and then wrapped up the scoring with his second right at the end.

In between those two strikes, Karim Benzema had put Madrid 2-0 up before Betis pulled a goal back through Jorge Molina's 73rd-minute penalty.

On Sunday, Nine-man Getafe's hopes of qualifying for the Europa League suffered a blow on Sunday after they lost 2-0 at home to Espanyol.

A goal by Joan Verdu gave the visitors the lead towards the end of a first half which saw few chances and little incident or excitement.

The hosts failed to produce the commanding performance coach Luis Garcia had demanded before the game, and their level dropped even further when Borja Fernandez was sent off early in the second half.

Getafe centre-back Federico Fernandez then also received his marching orders midway through the second period before Espanyol midfielder Christian Stuani made sure of the points immediately after with his side's second goal.

Radamel Falcao demonstrated why he is the number one transfer target for so many top European clubs by snatching victory for Atletico Madrid at Sevilla with a classic poacher's goal.

The Colombian poked home a shot from Raul Garcia with 14 minutes remaining to decide a closely-fought match that was high on intensity and tension but which produced little in the way of quality football.

The last match between these two sides ended with two Sevilla players being sent off and, although no players were dismissed this time around, the match was no less heated and Atletico's players picked up five yellow cards between them - the most notable being handed to Mario Suarez for his thunderous challenge on Jose Antonio Reyes.

Fernando Llorente scored his first Primera Division goal since September to earn 10-man Athletic Bilbao a 1-1 draw from their trip to in-form Deportivo La Coruna.

Bruno Gama had Depor dreaming of a fifth successive victory with his 38th-minute strike but Llorente headed Athletic level just before the break to earn a point for the Basque outfit, who were forced to hold on with a man less for the final nine minutes following the dismissal of Ander Iturraspe.

Osasuna could not get the win they needed to arrest a poor run of form that has them hovering just above the relegation zone, but did enough to frustrate Real Sociedad's European ambitions in a goalless draw.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Valencia produced an astonishing first-half blitz to thrash Malaga 5-1 and boost their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

After a goalless opening 25 minutes Valencia suddenly went on the rampage with four goals in six remarkable minutes to all but wrap up the win before half-time.

Dani Parejo opened the scoring before Roberto Soldado struck twice in as many minutes, the second from the penalty spot, as Valencia took complete control of proceedings.

Worse was to follow for hapless Malaga though as Sergio Canales extended Valencia's lead further.

The visitors finally gave their fans something to cheer about when Julio Baptista pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time from a free-kick, but any hopes of a revival from the Andalusian side were soon demolished when Ever Banega added a fifth for Valencia shortly after the re-start.

Granada are a point clear of the relegation zone after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at home with Valladolid.

Patrick Ebert gave the visitors a surprise lead in the second half with a gloriously struck free-kick but Youssef El-Arabi levelled with 18 minutes remaining.

The hosts were the better side throughout the 90 minutes and pushed for a late winner but were unable to beat the outstanding Valladolid goalkeeper Jaime Jimenez.

Real Mallorca moved up to third from bottom as they continue their fight against relegation from the Primera Division with a 1-1 draw against Rayo Vallecano.

Both goals came in the first 13 minutes with Piti putting Rayo ahead in the seventh minute only for Alejandro Alfaro to level six minutes later.

While Mallorca presented more of an attacking force, they were relieved to see the post twice come to their aid when the woodwork denied Alhassane Bangoura in quick succession.


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W

e have the personnel. The trick is keeping them fit. Carrick and Blind have missed large chunks of the season, while the defence has been one muddled mess of intermittent stooges, all coming and going at various intervals thus far. We may be just short of title winning quality, but we're half way through. An injury crisis to either of the top two could change things. Optimistic, yes, but not unrealistic.

HarryBoulton
One Point And One Conclusion For United

P

arish is the man to blame for this shambles. Pulis must be chuckling into his left over turkey sandwich. I pray this doesn't mean the Neil Warnock media machine will kick in now and he'll be back on the telly box.

magicfuller
Warnock sacked by Palace

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e almost found a new way to lose, just when I thought it was getting boring Giroud does that. Although Arsenal are deservedly called 'soft' the entire midfield is out injured. Still must admit MU are managing to win despite a similar raft of absentees. Think the Gunners have good players but poorly coached.

gettalong
Wenger: Giroud deserved red

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