As is always the case when the world’s most watched fixture comes around, the Clasico more than lived up to the hype as Barcelona fought back to keep the title race alive with a late, late victory over Real Madrid as Lionel Messi scored with the final touch of the game to round off a superb team move in the 92nd minute of a thrilling game.
That goal came as a shock given that Casemiro had opened the scoring just before the half hour mark, pouncing at the far post, but it took the Argentinean just five minutes to react as he weaved past the Madrid defence to equalise. In the second half, Barcelona took the lead with Ivan Rakitic firing a thunderbolt past Keylor Navas from distance.
That riled the hosts, who saw Sergio Ramos sent off for a flying two footed tackle at the ankles of Barcelona’s talisman, but Zidane’s side did not give up, with James Rodriguez seemingly winning his side a crucial point with five minutes left on the clock. That didn’t account for Messi’s brilliance though and with three points on the board, the Catalans moved back to top of the table despite Madrid’s game in hand.
That cut the gap between second and third to just six points for Atletico, but it seems too late for Diego Simeone’s side to mount any kind of late comeback even in spite of their win over Espanyol on Saturday evening with Antoine Griezmann the saviour as it looked as though Quique Sanchez Flores would extend his unbeaten run against his former club until the Frenchman broke the deadlock late on.
Sevilla are not far behind the side from the Calderon as Jorge Sampaoli’s team returned to winning ways at Tony Adam’s expense as Granada fell to a 2-0 defeat. Some bright spells going forward in the closing stages gave hope to the former Arsenal captain, but Sevilla’s attacking prowess just proved too much for the fellow Andalucians with Ganso twice on the scoresheet.
That gave Sevilla a comfortable cushion over Villarreal, who remain eight points behind despite some controversial refereeing against Leganes this weekend. Miguel Angel Guerrero had seemed to have earned a pivotal point for the Madrid minnows in the 90th minute to aid their battle to survive relegation, only for Cedric Bakambu to punch the ball into the back of the net Maradona style in the 93rd minute to secure his brace and a victory for the Yellow Submarine.
Fortunately for Leganes, Sporting Gijon failed to capitalise as they could not beat bottom side Osasuna away from home. A nightmare start saw Jorge Mere deflect an effort into his own net and it took a late comeback from Castro and Roberto Canella to even earn a point in Pamplona.
Monday night saw an important Basque derby as Eibar met Athletic Bilbao knowing that both would be fighting for the final Europa League spot and neither could afford to slip up with fellow local rivals Real Sociedad also on the pace. A controversial red card for Gonzalo Escalante gave Athletic hope but it was only after hitting the post twice that Raul Garcia could find them the winner with what was the final touch of the game.
Below are the weekend’s results in full:
Sevilla 2-0 Granada
Malaga 2-0 Valencia
Villarreal 2-1 Leganes
Osasuna 2-2 Sporting Gijon
Espanyol 0-1 Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad 1-0 Deportivo A Coruna
Celta Vigo 0-1 Real Betis
Las Palmas 1-1 Deportivo Alaves
Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona
Eibar 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
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