After a week of heavy Champions League emotions, it was time for some weekend football. Atletico Madrid hosted Barcelona, in what promised to be the game of the weekend.
Although heavily defensive as usual, Atletico leaked a late goal and Barcelona still leads La Liga table. They are joined by rivals Real Madrid, who also survived a scare against Alaves, but keep tight on the race.
Check the current standings, after matchday 15 of La Liga schedule:
Atletico Madrid 0 x 1 Barcelona
They say to leave the best to last and, on paper, that’s what they did as Atletico welcomed Barcelona – and Antoine Griezmann – to the Wanda Metropolitano. It was the home side looking the most likely to break the deadlock too.
Barca survived an early scare when a cutback bounced across goal and off the foot of the upright and then Marc Andre Ter Stegen denied the hosts twice. First blocking Mario Hermoso’s attempt from Joao Felix’s delivery and then pawing away Alvaro Morata’s downward header.
Gerard Pique went close to score for Barcelona, but his header struck the bar before Griezmann fluffed his lines with the one-half chance that came his way much to the delight of the home crowd. Griezmann would have the last laugh though – although he wasn’t involved – with four minutes remaining.
Lionel Messi, who just won the 6th Ballon D’Or this Monday evening, carried the ball forwards bounced a one-two off Luis Suarez.
With no backlift at all found the back of Jan Oblak’s net from 18 yards. He is now one goal away from Karim Benzema in the top scorers.
It is still not this time that Real Madrid steals the lead, with Leo Messi keeping the ‘Blaugrana’ on joint points. Guess we will have to wait for ‘El Clasico’…
Alaves 1 x 2 Real Madrid
Zinedine Zidane’s men turned in one of their most impressive performances of the season in midweek (forgetting the last 10 minutes). Yet, it’s fair to say their trip to Alaves was far from plain sailing.
The first half was severely lacking in clear chances but seven minutes after the break a delightful Toni Kroos free-kick was headed home by Sergio Ramos for 1-0. Ramos didn’t remain the hero for long though as on 65 he conceded a penalty for throwing an arm into Joselu’s face.
The other Alaves frontman, Lucas Perez, made no mistake from the spot as he drilled low and hard into the bottom corner.
Just four minutes later the home side allowed Real to re-take the lead. This time it was Dani Carvajal who netted. Luka Modric crossed from the right and although Fernando Pacheco denied Isco there was nothing the Alaves keeper could do to stop Carvajal bundling over the line from close range.
Everything keeps the same at the top, as both teams clinched their way to 3 points.
Espanyol 2 x 4 Osasuna
The attention might go towards the title race but the game of the weekend came as lowly Espanyol took on Osasuna. The home side found themselves with a golden opportunity to take an early lead when, on 20, Facundo Roncaglia was penalized for handball.
Marc Roca sent Juan Ruiz the wrong way from 12 yards to make it 1-0 and it stayed like that until the interval.
Within four minutes of the second half though the game was turned on its head. Firstly Ruben Garcia buried a back post header as he met the most inviting of crosses from Pervis Estupinan.
Then Bernardo Espinosa played a shoddy back pass to Diego Lopez, Chimy Avila intercepted and gleefully made it 1-2 in a remarkable turnaround.
The action was far from over though as on 52 as Osasuna man Roncaglia saw red – for two yellows – after hacking down Víctor Campuzano.
Espanyol struggled to create much despite having a man advantage and with six minutes remaining again lost possession in a dangerous area and this time Jon Moncayola punished them to make the game all but over.
With two minutes of injury time played Osasuna made it four; Avila showed good footwork in the box to win a penalty and Roberto Torres stroked home with ease. There was still time for Jonathan Calleri to net a wonderful second goal for struggling Espanyol but it counts for little.
Real Sociedad 4 x 1 Eibar
Real Sociedad entertained Eibar on Saturday and a blistering second half meant their terrific start to the season has continued. Aritz Elustondo was forced off with injury after just nine minutes.
It was his replacement, Robin Le Normand, who headed Sociedad in front on 25, as he connected with Martin Odegaard’s left-footed free-kick. 10 minutes later though and Eibar leveled with their first real attempt on goal.
Dallying on the ball gave the away side, the opportunity but the chance looked to have gone before Pape Diop stroked home a loose ball from 18 yards.
The second half didn’t take long to come to life with Mikel Oyarzabal hitting a half volley across Marko Dmitrovic and into the corner on 47. On 57 Willian Jose made it 3-1 taking one touch to swivel and another to bury his chance.
It wasn’t until 80 that things were made completely safe though and it was a goal worthy of wrapping up any game; Odegaard whipping into Dmitrovic’s top right corner from 18 yards.
Valencia 2 x 1 Villarreal
Valencia and Villarreal came into this match with similar records but it was the away side who were gifted an early opportunity to take the lead when Eliaquim Mangala clumsily conceded a penalty. Gerard Moreno stepped up but hit a tame effort that Jasper Cillessen saved.
The ‘Che’ team began taking the game to their visitors but found Sergio Asenjo in good form. On 49 Rodrigo latched onto a long ball, rounded Asenjo and gave his side a 1-0 lead. The advantage only lasted five minutes though as Zambo Anguissa fired past Cillessen.
Valencia had been asking most of the questions and on 70 got their noses in front again. The hero of the Chelsea game, Daniel Wass, ventured forward from right-back and his ball evaded everyone. Ferran Torres took the gift and swept home.
Getafe 4 x 0 Levante
Prior to kick-off, just one point separated Getafe and their visitors, Levante, in the table and there was little between them in the first half. The second burst into life though and Getafe took the lead on 54; Leandro Cabrera heading in from a corner.
On the hour mark, Jorge Molina bagged Getafe’s second from the spot after a foul by Oscar Duarte and just seven minutes later it was 3-0. It was another corner and another header, this time with Angel the man to thump past Aitor Fernandez.
With 12 minutes remaining, David Timor scored the pick of the bunch to complete the scoring. It was a central free-kick, 20 yards out and Timor struck the ball under the jumping wall and into the back of the net.
Sevilla 1 x 0 Leganes
On paper, Sunday’s game between Sevilla and bottom club Leganes had home win written all over it but good goalkeeping, desperate defending and poor finishing ensured Leganes were in the match.
The away side even had chances to win the match but their failure to take one combined with their low confidence meant a goal for Sevilla would kill the game. That’s exactly what happened on 63 as Diego Carlos reacted quickest to Ivan Cuellar spilling Jules Kounde’s acrobatic effort.
Lopetegui’s team cement their 3rd place, being 1 point away from the leaders and 4 points away from 4th placed Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao.
Meanwhile, Leganes keeps at the bottom, with Aguirre still unable to lift the team from the danger zone.
Athletic Bilbao 2 x 0 Granada
If Granada’s start to the season had raised a few eyebrows then you have to say we should have seen their poor run of results coming. Things didn’t get any easier when they went to Bilbao on Sunday.
Granada had been very much in the game during the first 45 but a minute before the whistle, with the ball already safe in his keeper’s hands, Domingos Duarte shoved his opposite number, Raul Garcia, over and the ref pointed to the spot.
Garcia took the kick and saw his weak attempt pushed away by Rui Silva; Silva though had come off his line too early and Garcia thundered home at the second try to make it 1-0.
It stayed 1-0 until the 83rd minute – although Bilbao always looked in control. Yuri Berchiche stormed in at the back stick to get on the end of Unai Lopez’s cross-shot.
Granada is now 10th and failed to win in the last 5 games. Athletic is on the opposite route, on a 5 game streak without defeats and being 5 points away from the table toppers.
Mallorca 1 x 2 Real Betis
Real Betis have been on a reasonable run of form lately, recovering from a poor season start. A visit to strugglers Mallorca provided another opportunity to add three points to their tally for the season.
Mallorca hardly made their task any easier though as after just seven minutes Iddrisu Baba tripped Nabil Fekir in the box. Joaquin rolled into the bottom corner of Manolo Reina’s net.
On 33, Fekir and Baba were in the thick of things again. This time Fekir held off the Ghanaian and found the same corner bottom corner from 20 yards.
10 minutes into the second period Mallorca were handed a way back into the game when Andres Guardado lunged at Daniel Rodriguez to give away the games second spot-kick. Lago Junior duly dispatched to half the deficit.
Mallorca pushed for an equalizer after the penalty but a combination of Joel Robles and the post kept Betis in front and to rub salt in the wounds. Mallorca left-back Lumor Agbenyenu received his marching orders after collecting a second yellow card.
Celta Vigo 0 x 0 Real Valladolid
Friday night’s game saw Celta Vigo welcome Real Valladolid to Balaidos hoping to build on their impressive win at Villarreal last time out.
Unfortunately, neither side did enough to win the game although Celta had the better of it with Pione Sisto hitting a 20-yard dipping effort that Jordi Masip tipped over.