Barca struggles but keeps the joint lead with Real Madrid

Barcelona grasped a win against bottom side Leganes
Barcelona grasped a win against bottom side Leganes Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The international break is gone and club football is back. La Liga schedule returned this weekend with more great games, where we saw Barcelona head to head with the last-placed Leganes. What seemed to be a cruise, proved like a struggling obstacle, but the ‘blaugrana’ got through.

On the Bernabeu, Real Madrid had a difficult task against Real Sociedad, but they keep steady in their joint lead with Barcelona.

Leganes 1 x 2 Barcelona

When Ernesto Valverde took his team to face Leganes on Saturday afternoon many thought Barcelona would be dishing out a hammering to La Liga’s bottom club. However, the new coach of Leganes, Aguirre, seems to be creating quite an impact.

Leganes weren’t fearful of their superior opponent though and took the lead in just the 12th minute as Youssef En-Nesyri found the top corner with a wonderful bending strike from just inside the Barca box.

The league leaders failed to create too much in response to falling behind prior to the break although Luis Suarez was denied a leveler when a fully stretched Ivan Cuellar tipped the Uruguayan’s flicked header round the post.

The second half started in a fashion that might have had Leganes fans believing it was their day. Gerard Pique headed against the upright before handling as he went to take a second bite.

If that moment was lady luck smiling down on Leganes then she soon went elsewhere as on 53 Suarez found the net nodding home a Lionel Messi free-kick.

Whilst conceding from a set-piece would have been a huge frustration for Leganes – who had otherwise defended well – a point against Barca would have been a huge result but on 80 they were undone, this time from a corner and Arturo Vidal was the beneficiary of a fortuitous bounce in the box sweeping in from two yards.

Real Madrid 3 x 1 Real Sociedad

Real Madrid hosted Real Sociedad on Saturday evening with a game that was, on paper, somewhat tougher than the task Barcelona faced but the match followed a similar pattern as the visitors were gifted an opening goal in the second minute.

Sergio Ramos was guilty of a woeful back pass and Willian Jose gobbled the chance up. Real survived a scramble shortly after and on 37 Karim Benzema produced an improvised finish – using his chest – to beat Alex Remiro from Luka Modric’s wide free-kick.

Shortly after the restart, Zinedine Zidane saw his team go 2-1 up thanks to a wicked deflection, although credit will be given to Federico Valverde who struck the initial effort from 30 yards. Things remained slightly nervy inside the Bernabeu with just the one goal in the game.

Although substitute Gareth Bale introduced an interesting dynamic to the atmosphere and he was heavily involved in the next goal on 74 when a swift break ended with Bale to Benzema, who assisted Modric for the winner.

Osasuna 1 x 2 Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao had been on a good unbeaten run ahead of their trip to Osasuna and it looked set to continue when a calm headed Inaki Williams slotted past Sergio Herrera for 0-1 on 21.

From then on though it was all Osasuna and only a combination an offside flag and a string of saves by Unai Simon kept the hosts at bay – at least until the 76th minute when Chimy Avila finally broke the Bilbao resolve with a kung-fu style volley.

Bilbao seems to mean business this season though and just three minutes later they had their advantage back; this time Kenan Kodi was the man to score.

After that, Osasuna failed to trouble the Bilbao backline and the away side made it five without defeat.

Real Betis 2 x 1 Valencia

Real Betis recorded their first win in three games against Valencia on Saturday. They did leave it late and had to come from behind to do so.

Valencia took the lead shortly after the half hour mark; Ferran Torres tricked his way into the Betis box before feeding Maxi Gomez who slid the ball beyond Joel Robles for 0-1.

The lead only lasted five minutes though as Joaquin confidently notched when played in by Alex Moreno. Nabil Fekir was pushing for Betis’ second goal but first, he was denied by Jasper Cillessen and then he rattled the underside of the crossbar, which is something Lee Kang-in did in very similar fashion at the other end.

Things seemed destined to end in a 1-1 draw but with next to no time on the clock, Sergio Canales whipped a free-kick over Cillessen and into the top bag to steal all three points.

Villarreal 1 x 3 Celta Vigo

Celta Vigo traveled to Villarreal with the aim of extending the Yellow Submarine’s winless run to four games. Still, they’d have to break their own poor run to do so and, in a match lacking goalmouth action, they took a lead on 54 with Pione Sisto beating Sergio Asenjo.

The home side soon made it 1-1 though when Samuel Chukwueze found the top corner to finish a flowing team move in style.

It would have been expected that Villarreal went on to collect all three points with momentum back on their side but on 79 Iago Aspas sent the away fans wild when he volleyed in at close range to make it 1-2.

Villarreal was inches from restoring parity for the second time in the game but Javi Ontiveros saw his 20-yard volley come back off the bar. Then with seconds remaining Aspas raced the entire length of the Villarreal half before keeping his composure to bag his brace and make it 1-3.

Granada 1 x 1 Atletico Madrid

Granada and Atletico Madrid locked horns over the weekend with both sides hoping to continue their solid starts to the campaign but, despite their lofty league positions, the first hour passed with little quality on display and then Atletico finally broke the boredom.

Hector Herrera played a perfectly weighted ball to the marauding Renan Lodi and the visitors left-back to put the ball through Rui Silva’s legs for 1-0. It was the first goal for the ‘colchoneros’ for the Brazilian who arrived in Summer.

Just five minutes later though, on 67, Granada pulled back to 1-1. German Sanchez cushioning a header past Jan Oblak from Angel Montoro’s corner.

If there was going to be a winner then it was going to he Atletico. Alvaro Morata wasted his best opportunity to make it 7 goals in 7 games when he skied over the bar from eight yards. Goalscorer Lodi had squared, but the Spanish striker was not on his day.

Espanyol 1 x 1 Getafe

Sunday’s action got underway with the second-bottom side Espanyol hosting Getafe. It looked like the home fans were in for a long afternoon when Jaime Mata gave Getafe a lead on the 3rd minute, nodding in a looping delivery from Mathias Olivera.

Espanyol struggled to create anything in open play but had looked threatening from set plays and on 45 they equalised, Wu Lei arriving at the back post to turn home following a corner.

David Soria had a heart in mouth moment late on in the Getafe goal but his poor clearance fell to Marc Roca who could only lift the ball wide.

Real Valladolid 0 x 1 Sevilla

Real Valladolid entertained Sevilla in the final match of the weekend and it didn’t take long for the first goal to come. On 13, Pablo Hervias fouled Nolito in the area and then controversy unfolded.

Ever Banega took the resultant spot-kick but Jordi Masip kept it out diving to his right. However, the Valladolid shot-stopper strayed off his line too early and Banega made no mistake with the retake to make it 0-1.

Sevilla remained the stronger side and should have doubled their lead when Nolito was played through on goal. His effort was feeble and unquestionably a contender for the worst attempt of the season.

Valladolid never looked like getting back in the game after falling behind early on but the game ended on a sour note for Sevilla as Lucas Ocampus saw red for a second yellow.

They are up to third place though and they extend their unbeaten run to 6 games.

Levante 2 x 1 Mallorca

Friday night saw Mallorca at Levante aiming to pull away from the relegation spaces in La Liga table. Ante Budimir nearly gave them the perfect start but his powerful header was kept out by Aitor Fernandez to ensure things remained 0-0.

That’s how it stayed until 52 when Roger Marti gave Levante the edge with his own bullet header from a teasing Jorge Miramon delivery. Mallorca hit back quickly though as 13 minutes later Dani Rodriguez made it 1-1.

By this point, the match had exploded into life and on 73 Ruben Rochina scored one of the goals of the season so far, rifling a fierce 40-yard strike low into the bottom corner making it 2-1 to the hosts.

Mallorca was offered a lifeline late in the day when Levante man Jose Campana saw red – an accumulation of two yellows – but the home side saw it out with a little help from the crossbar, denying Abdon, in the dying seconds.

Eibar 0 x 2 Alaves

Eibar and Alaves locked horns in a mid-table battle on Sunday and although the match was end to end the quality was lacking, although Charles hit a 20-yard strike that looked destined for the net.

This was until Alaves keeper Fernando Pacheco tipped over and it proved a match-winning stop. At the other end Joselu swept home on 85 and in stoppage time confident Joselu buried his – and Alaves’ – second.

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