Real Madrid once again came within minutes of throwing away their role of favourites in the La Liga title race at the Bernabeu in the rain as Valencia shocked them and almost held them to a 1-1 draw. Cristiano Ronaldo had opened the scoring with a deft header, only for Dani Parejo to level the scores with an exquisite free-kick from 20 yards which Keylor Navas could not quite keep out of his own net with only eight minutes left. Madrid did not have long to respond and fortunately for them they did so, with Marcelo proving to be the man of the moment as he weaved in and out of the Valencia defence before curling an effort past Diego Alves, who had previously saved a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo.
That was a blow to the hopes of Barcelona, who then faced even more pressure as they traveled across Barcelona to take on their city rivals Espanyol in the Catalan derby. A tense first half lived up to expectations as the friction between Luis Enrique and Quique Sanchez Flores on the touchline showed on the pitch with neither side able to find a breakthrough. Luis Suarez didn’t delay in the second half though, waiting just five minutes to pounce on Jurado’s poor back pass to round Diego Lopez and score his first goal in five games. Ivan Rakitic added a second later on to make sure before Suarez made it three in the closing stages to earn an impressive and vital win to keep the title race alive.
At the other end of the table, there was less positive news for Tony Adams at Granada. The former Arsenal captain saw his side relegated with three games to play as former Southampton striker Juanmi scored a late winner for Real Sociedad to send them down. Adrian Ramos had equalised to score the first goal in four games under Adams, but it was not enough and his team were relegated languishing at the bottom with only Osasuna for comfort below them.
Sporting Gijon lived to fight another day thanks to Leganes’ defeat at Eibar, but Villarreal showed them no mercy on Friday night as Roberto Soldado and Cedric Bakambu blew them away, meaning that it now seems to be when rather than if the Asturians will join Granada in the second division next season.
It was a much needed result for the Yellow Submarine though as Athletic Bilbao continued to apply the pressure as they thrashed a weakened Celta Vigo side by three goals to nil with Raul Garcia on form. Celta had opted to rest a number of key players ahead of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday against Manchester United.
Another side with a big European game in midweek is Atletico Madrid, who will face Real Madrid, but they opted not to rest too many key men and still ran out more than comfortable winners over Las Palmas, who had Kevin Prince Boateng sent off as Atleti demolished them 5-0 with Kevin Gameiro, Saul, Thomas and Fernando Torres on the scoresheet.
That allowed Atleti to stretch their lead over Sevilla to three points as Jorge Sampaoli’s team continued their decline as they fell to a shock defeat at La Rosaleda in a topsy-turvy game which saw Sevilla take the lead and then draw the scores back level before Real Madrid loanee Diego Llorente scored the winner with a header in the 77th minute, courtesy of an assist from free transfer signing Sandro Ramirez who was also on the scoresheet for his 15th goal of the season since joining from Barcelona in the summer, who went on to miss a penalty before Juankar scored the rebound to put the game to bed.
You can find the full results from this weekend’s fixtures below:
Villarreal 3-1 Sporting Gijon
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada
Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia
UD Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
RCD Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona
Osasuna 2-2 Deportivo A Coruna
Real Betis 1-4 Deportivo Alaves
SD Eibar 2-0 CD Leganes SAD
Celta Vigo 0-3 Athletic Bilbao
Malaga 4-2 Sevilla
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