Tight at the top in Spain

A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish La Liga, with three teams now level on 57 points at the summit.

Last Updated: 09/02/14 at 22:27 Post Comment

Celebrations for Barca at Sevilla

Celebrations for Barca at Sevilla

A review of the weekend's action so far in the Spanish La Liga.

Barcelona made it a three-way tie on 57 points at the top of the Primera Division on Sunday night as they won 4-1 at Sevilla.

Having seen Real Madrid go top on Saturday, the Catalan side joined their bitter rivals and also Atletico Madrid thanks to a come-from-behind victory on a torrid night.

With heavy rain making passing football near-impossible, Barcelona found a way with Alexis Sanchez's botched header, Lionel Messi's brace and Cesc Fabregas' late goal washing out Alberto Moreno's opener.

Humberto Osorio scored twice in the second half as Valladolid fought back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to fellow strugglers Elche.

Ferran 'Coro' Corominas had given Fran Escriba's side the lead in a scrappy first half that was low on attractive football, and Manu del Moral looked to have sealed the points when he doubled their advantage on 66 minute.

However, Colombian forward Osorio scored twice in seven minutes to earn Valladolid a valuable point that not only puts them three points from safety, but also prevents Elche from moving seven points away from them.

Osasuna moved further away from the relegation zone as they claimed a 2-0 over Getafe.

Oriol Riera fired them ahead early on but it was backs-to-the-wall stuff for most of the first half as struggling Getafe dominated proceedings.

Osasuna improved in the second half and eventually got a second goal through Roberto Torres as the home side moved five points clear of the drop and extended Getafe's winless league run to eight games.

Real Sociedad passed up an opportunity to put pressure on Athletic Bilbao in the hunt for fourth spot as they were held to a goalless draw at home to Levante.

Karim Benzema scored twice and Gareth Bale marked his return from injury with a goal and an assist as Real Madrid beat Villarreal 4-2 to press their title claims.

In the end, Cristiano Ronaldo's absence hardly mattered.

Having spent considerable energy on attempting to repeal the three-match ban handed to the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner, Madrid were turned down and had to field a side to face Villarreal without their talisman.

Not to worry, they had Benzema, and Bale, and Jese.

The front three all scored as Madrid kept the pressure on.

The title race later took another twist as Atletico Madrid suffered a shock 2-0 defeat away to struggling Almeria.

Jose Antonio Verza curled in a stunning goal - surely meant as a cross - 10 minutes from time after Almeria's stubborn defensive display had driven Atletico to distraction on a night of pure frustration.

And things got worse five minutes later when goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia - perhaps at fault for the opener - blundered in a big way, fluffing a back-pass and then fouling Jonathan Zongo to concede a penalty, converted by Verza, and seeing red.

Atletico ended the night in second place in the overall standings - if only on goal difference following that big win for Real Madrid - but victory for Barcelona at Sevilla on Sunday would send Gerardo Martino's men back to the top of the league.

Paco Alcacer scored twice as Valencia followed up their Nou Camp heroics by thrashing lowly Real Betis 5-0 at the Mestalla.

Having beaten Barcelona in their last outing, Valencia began positively and took the lead after 41 minutes through a header by Jeremy Mathieu.

Alcacer doubled Valencia's advantage on the stroke of half-time, and added his second in the 67th minute, soon after Sofiane Feghouli had made it 3-0. Eduardo Vargas marked his full debut for Valencia by scoring the fifth goal with 11 minutes remaining.

Rayo Vallecano breathed life into their hopes of avoiding relegation with a resounding and morale-boosting 4-1 win over Malaga, who had to play the entire second half with 10 men.

Tottenham loanee Iago Falque broke the deadlock midway through the first half with a fine individual goal and a deflected effort by Anaitz Arbilla just a minute later doubled the hosts' advantage.

Joaquin Larrivey slotted in a penalty on 45 minutes and Sergio Sanchez was given a second yellow card for conceding the spot-kick.

Rayo then coasted to victory, Falque scoring another impressive goal but Ukrainian forward Oleksandr Iakovenko got a late consolation for Bernd Schuster's side.

On Friday, Hector Moreno's late header ended Espanyol's worrying winless run as they got back on track with a 1-0 victory over Granada, despite playing for an hour with 10 men.

Espanyol had been looking over their shoulders after four games without a win and endured another nervous night on Friday as Victor Alvarez's dismissal after half an hour put them on the back foot.

But with time ticking down, Moreno headed in the winner from a 79th-minute corner to earn three much-needed points.


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