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Spanish La Liga

La Liga Matchday 6 – Ronaldo rages as Griezmann proves the difference

The biggest news item of the weekend came from the Canary Islands, where Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid took on an in-form Las Palmas side as they sought to return to winning ways after a draw against Villarreal in midweek. However, they would have to settle for a point once again as the side in yellow scored a last minute equaliser to bring the scores back level. Whilst that would normally be enough to steal the front pages of all of the Spanish sporting press, it was the actions of Cristiano Ronaldo which adorned the covers. Substituted for Lucaz Vazquez in the 72nd minute, Zidane insists he was resting his star man having taken the lead with a trip to Dortmund in the Champions league only 72 hours later, but many saw it as a tactical substitution after the Portuguese forward’s poor display as he continues his worst start to a La Liga season since arriving, with the frustration clearly on show.

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That allowed their city neighbours Atletico to begin to catch up in the early title race as Antoine Griezmann’s effort was enough to give his side the three points up against ten man Deportivo after Faycal Fajr was sent off just before half time. The result extends Depor’s winless streak with their last victory coming against Eibar on the opening day, as Atletico struggled to produce their best version of themselves despite fielding a fairly strong line-up ahead of a midweek tie against Bayern Munich.

Barcelona also recouped some of the lead that Real Madrid had built up as they saw off Sporting Gijon with ease to further compound the pundits who claimed that they would struggle without the injured Lionel Messi. Goals from Luis Suarez, Rafinha, who replaced Messi on the right side of attack, and then three goals in the last ten minutes from Neymar and Arda Turan showed that the Barcelona attack had not been blunted by the absence of their Argentine talisman, even if the dismissal of Alberto Lora in the 74th minute made the task easier for Luis Enrique’s men.

Another major clash which was likely to have an impact at the business end of the season was in Bilbao as Athletic took on Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla with a likely hero appearing. Left-back Mikel Balenziaga scored his first career goal after over 300 appearances with a superb strike to put his side back in front after MIkel San Jose and Samir Nasri kept the scores level on the hour mark. Sevilla goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, on loan from PSG, then saw red in the final minute of the game to allow Aritz Aduriz to beat midfielder Vicente Iborra who played as a stand in goalkeeper for injury time.

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Both sides will be keen to keep the pressure up on Villarreal, who currently sit in fourth place, as they extended the poor form of Osasuna, who are still without a win on their return to the top flight. It took only five minutes for former Chelsea loanee Alexandre Pato to open the scoring, before Bruno Soriano converted a penalty and Italian striker Nicola Sansone added his fourth goal of the season to put the game out of sight by half time.

Also down at the bottom of the table, Valencia continued their revival under club legend Voro as they came from behind to beat another newly promoted side, Leganes. Argentinean winger Alexander Szymanowski went from hero to villain as he opened the scoring but then missed a penalty after Nani and Mario Suarez completed a Valencia turnaround either side of half time. Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala continues to struggle at the heart of Los Che’s defence, but they do slowly seem to be turning things around with Cesar Prandelli reportedly close to being appointed at Mestalla.

They have been replaced in the relegation zone by RCD Espanyol under former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, as they continue to fight for their first home win after conceding twice in injury time to be defeated by Celta Vigo, who have won two in a row after failing to taste victory in any of their first five games of the season in all competitions. Giuseppe Rossi capitalised to give his side the lead before Pione Sisto scored to top off a 93rd minute counter attack as Espanyol desperately tried to regain the point they were just minutes away from securing.

Another former Premier League manager enjoyed better luck as Gus Pooyet’s Real Betis saw off a plucky Malaga side thanks to Joaquin’s headed effort in the first half. Ex-Spurs boss Juande Ramos was on the receiving end of the defeat though, with his side only just outside the drop zone on goal difference.

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Another man under pressure was Paco Jemez, who was sacked by Granada on Wednesday after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Alaves saw him go six games without victory having taken Rayo Vallecano down last season. A second half collapse was enough to see Jamez sacked, meaning he cannot manage another Spanish club this season due to RFEF rules.

Eibar were the other side to pick up a victory in a rare matchday with only one draw as they saw off Real Sociedad thanks to an Asier Illaramendi own goal and a strike from former Manchester United winger Bebe after Pedro Leon missed an earlier penalty which saw Aritz Elustondo sent off.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Serg Hoholok.