La Liga Matchday 15 - Atleti enter crisis as Valencia hit rock bottom
The biggest shock of the weekend in La Liga as Atletico Madrid travelled to El Madrigal to face Villarreal, as the Yellow Submarine ran out 3-0 winners. Manu Trigueros capitalised on an error from Thiago to open the scoring before Jonathan Dos Santos beat Jan Oblak, who injured himself in the process and will now be out of action for three to four months. Roberto Soriano added a third to make it an easy win for Fran Escriba’s team as Diego Simeone’s side slipped to sixth.
They were pushed close by Real Madrid though, as Zinedine Zidane opted to rest Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric among others as they needed a piece of magic from Sergio Ramos to score his second decisive injury time goal with a header from a set piece in as many weeks. Alvaro Morata opened the scoring with a fine effort but Deportivo A Coruna substitute Joselu, previously of Real Madrid, scored two goals in as many minutes to turn the game on its head. Madrid threw everything at them, and Mariano equalised in the 84th minute, but a scuffle and a 93rd minute winner from Ramos gave Zidane yet another three points.
Barcelona came back to form with their first league win in a month by seeing off struggling Osasuna. Luis Suarez opened the scoring on the hour mark after a number of chances went begging, but Lionel Messi stole the show with two good goals, including a remarkable individual effort, to help lift the pressure on his side and Luis Enrique.
One of the most intriguing stories of the weekend was Valencia, who are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference. Manager Cesare Prandelli slammed his squad in a press conference on Friday before their trip to the Anoeta, but it took just two minutes for Real Sociedad’s Willian Jose to open the scoring. Willian added another before Dani Parejo revived some hope from the spot kick, only for Diego Alves to keep his side in the game by saving a Carlos Vela penalty. Things were starting to go Valencia’s way before Joao Cancelo’s red card in the 82nd minute. Los Che went for it and conceded a third from ex-Southampton man Juanmi which ruled Zakari Bakkali’s consolation effort with almost the final kick of the game.
Elsewhere, Sevilla held off pressure from Real Sociedad and Villarreal to keep a four point lead in third place, with substitute Vicente Iborra sealing his hat-trick with an injury time spot kick having come on at half time. Celta were disappointing and remain stuck in midtable despite qualification from their group in the Europa League giving them a trip to Shakhtar Donetsk in the next round.
That was just Sevilla’s third league win in the past season and a half, but Athletic Bilbao are still searching for their first victory away from San Mames this campaign. Athletic could have overtaken Atletico into sixth place had they beaten Real Betis but Ruben Castro scored the winner as Aymeric Laporte was given a real headache and forced off at half time as he had been fortunate to avoid a sending off before that on a frustrating evening for Ernesto Valverde.
Valverde’s former club Espanyol mainatined their impressive form under Quique Sanchez Flores and are now nine games unbeaten in La Liga as they push for a place in Europe. Former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo opened the scoring before Leo Baptistao added another in injury time. Duje Cop scored an impressive free-kick with the final touch for Sporting Gijon to avoid Espanyol obtaining a sixth consecutive clean sheet.
That saw the pressure mount on Eibar, now in eighth and famed for their struggles in the second half of the season after an impressive start in both of their seasons in the top flight. They drew 0-0 with Deportivo Alaves and both teams seemed fairly content with a point to help Alaves continue their climb away from the relegation zone.
Another newly promoted side weren’t far behind as Leganes also earned another valuable point for their cause, with Manuel Guerrero equalising from the penalty spot to equalise against Las Palmas on the Canary Islands.
Granada also climbed off the bottom of the table as they added their ninth point of the season thanks to Artem Kravets late headed equaliser against neighbours Malaga. Ivan Camacho had opened the scoring with a similar effort, but it ended a point apiece for the two teams from the south.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by MARIA JOSE SEGOVIA.
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