It was an eagerly awaited weekend, despite concerns of the Coronavirus outbreak on football stadiums. Nothing would prevent the magic to happen at the Santiago Bernabeu, as Real Madrid faced Barcelona in a match that could decide the fate of La Liga table.
Los ‘Blancos’ had two defeats in a row – one against Levante for La Liga and one against Manchester City. They were behind by 1 point from their counterpart but the stale display of Barcelona was not enough to break the deadlock.
In the end, the heroes were two unexpected protagonists. Meanwhile, Getafe took a breath from defeating Ajax in Europa League to secure even more their 3rd place. Atletico conceded a draw against bottom-placed Espanyol.
Check how is the current La Liga table.
Real Madrid 2 x 0 Barcelona
They say to leave the best to last and, on paper, that’s exactly what they did with Real Madrid hosting Barcelona in El Clasico on Sunday evening. Real suffered a Champions League upset at the hands of Man City in the week and Barca looked to capitalize on any hangover from the start.
Thibaut Courtois came up trumps to deny Arthur and Lionel Messi in separate one-on-one situations. At the other end, Marc Andre Ter Stegen had been reasonably quiet but in the second half was forced into the save of the game as his fingertips kept out a dipping Isco drive.
Isco did squeeze a header past Ter Stegen shortly after but the Barca keeper got half a hand to the ball, taking any pace off it, and that allowed Gerard Pique time to hack off the goal line. By this time it was the hosts asking all of the questions and on 71 they got their noses in front.
Vinicius Junior got in down the left flank and his effort deflected of Pique to wrong foot Ter Stegen at his near post for 1-0.
Barca struggled to offer much in response and at the death, Mariano Diaz capped off a solid Madrid display when he span in behind, raced towards Ter Stegen and slipped the ball past him for 2-0. The Dominican born striker was only on the field for one minute.
Zidane sees his team jump over the rivals and secured valuable 3 points but the race is far from over. Quique Setien’s first Clasico did not go as the coach probably expected.
Sevilla 3 x 2 Osasuna
The most optimistic of Sevilla fans might still harbor ambitious hopes of catching the top two. Although it’s unlikely, a win over Osasuna was guaranteed to close the gap on at least one of the pair, given they faced each other later in the day.
The hosts wasted no time in getting off the mark either as Yousef En-Nesyri passed a finish across Sergio Herrera into the bottom corner on 13 after being slipped in behind by Oliver.
Sevilla remained on top and on the stroke of half time doubled their advantage; Oliver grabbed a second assist with his corner being nodded down into the corner by Lucas Ocampos.
It seemed the game was all but over on 54 when Herrera was pulled up for handling outside his area, which resulted in the Osasuna keeper being shown a red card but the visitors rallied and 10 minutes later pulled a goal back to make it 2-1.
Roberto Torres put a teasing free-kick into the Sevilla box and Aridane headed in. A further 10 minutes passed and then Osasuna leveled up.
Torres saw his cross blocked by a hand, which VAR deemed as a penalty and Torres himself sent Bono the wrong way from the spot for 2-2.
The away side were deserving of a point for the spirit they’d shown but stoppage time saw a cruel blow when En-Nesyri tapped in from close range to clinch a dramatic win for Sevilla.
Eibar 3 x 0 Levante
Eibar welcomed mid-table Levante to Ipurua with their confidence in tatters after last weeks hammering at the hands of Barcelona fresh in the memory. The visitors, however, came from a home victory against Real Madrid.
The hosts quickly dispelled any doubt though with a quick start as Pedro Leon forced Aitor Fernandez into a double stop and on 28 Fernandez was beaten, Charles Dias the man with the final touch to give Eibar a 1-0 lead as he poked in after Fabian Orellana headed a lofted ball into the danger zone.
Shortly after the break, Eibar made it 2-0. Sergi Enrich and Dias exchanged a one-two with the latter rounding off by planting a header past Fernandez.
Dias had the chance to grab a hat-trick from the spot soon after when Jorge Miramon was adjudged to have fouled Enrich but Fernandez stopped what was a pretty woeful penalty.
Unfortunately, for Levante the miss hardly sparked them into life and on 84 Orellana swept in a right-footed finish to cap a great day for the hosts.
Valencia 2 x 1 Real Betis
Real Betis were on a six game losing streak stretching back to mid-January with a trip to Valencia laying in wait. The opening 45 was half of the missed opportunities.
Jose Luis Gaya striking the bar with an audacious cross-shot for from the left-wing whilst Jasper Cillessen batted away a Joaquin free-kick to deny Betis.
The second half saw Nabil Fekir hit the crossbar when he perhaps should have worked Cillessen and on the hour mark, Valencia went in front courtesy of a wonderful bending 20-yard strike from Kevin Gameiro.
It stayed at 1-0 until the final minutes when Daniel Wass showed good feet to hold the ball up before feeding Daniel Parejo who clinically fired into the bottom corner. It just as well Valencia did add a late second as in injury time a defensive mix up allowed Loren Moron to rifle in a consolation.
Espanyol 1 x 1 Atletico Madrid
Atletico produced a masterclass in midweek to beat Liverpool in the Champions League so a trip to take on lowly Espanyol should have been an easy three points but, after a slow start, it was Espanyol who took the lead.
Wu Lei whipped in a teasing cross and Stefan Savic bundled into his own net whilst under pressure from Raul de Tomas. It wasn’t against the run of play either and Atletico had Jan Oblak to thank for keeping it down to one when he tipped a rasping long-range Victor Sanchez strike onto the bar.
Espanyol’s game plan was working to perfection and the half time team talk would have been to keep things tight for the first 10 minutes of the second period but within 60 seconds Atletico restored parity.
Kieran Trippier put a free-kick into the mixer, which was only half-cleared to the 18-yard box and Saul Niguez lashed a volley beyond Diego Lopez for 1-1. After that, Atletico went closest to snatching victory with Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata both hitting the post in a mad scramble.
Leganes 1 x 1 Alaves
Alaves had a huge win last weekend as they defeated Athletic Bilbao to pull away from the relegation zone, which is something their hosts, Leganes, hope to replicate over the next few games.
It was the home side probing in the early stages too and Fernando Pacheco twice denied Oscar Rodriguez. First, he got down quickly to palm away a low strike and then he clawed away a free-kick from just inside his right post.
Alaves failed to pose much of a threat in the first half but immediately after the interval they went in front after crafting an opening for Lucas Perez who slotted past Ivan Cuellar for 0-1.
Not to be denied though, Leganes continued pressing and deservedly leveled on 59. Rodriguez was at the heart of things again, this time delivering a pinpoint cross from the right and Guido Carrillo thundered a header in from six yards.
Alaves then seized the initiative and had two good chances late on but Cuellar came up trumps to ensure his side collected a point.
Athletic Bilbao 1 x 0 Villarreal
Athletic Bilbao hasn’t been in the best of form lately and Villarreal is hardly a pushover so it was no surprise to see the Yellow Submarine threatening through Gerard Moreno early on.
Bilbao meanwhile wasn’t creating much but was handed a stroke of luck on 56 when Pau Torres was harshly penalized for a handball. Raul Garcia stepped up and converted for 1-0.
Shortly after, Villarreal was incensed as a second penalty decision went against them. This time it was Torres’ center back partner who was pulled up for the use of a hand. Thankfully for the visitors, Inaki Williams took this spot-kick and his weak attempt was easily saved by Sergio Asenjo who reacted quickly to stop the follow up too.
Mallorca 0 x 1 Getafe
Mallorca had their work cut out when Getafe visited on Sunday and it proved a backs against the wall game with the away side dominant throughout.
For a long time, it looked like Mallorca would hold firm though with Manolo Reina thwarting anything that got through the hosts’ low block but on 67 Nemanja Maksimovic got on the end of Kenedy’s cross to make it 0-1.
Mallorca never looked like leveling up after falling behind and to make matters worse were reduced to 10 men in the final minute as Salva Sevilla received his marching orders.
Real Sociedad 1 x 0 Real Valladolid
Last week Valladolid earned a huge win over Espanyol but a trip to take on Real Sociedad was likely to be a somewhat trickier affair.
The away side were resilient in the opening 45 but after the interval Sociedad began turning the screw and on 60 Adnan Januzaj got across his man on the near post to head in from Mikel Oyarzabal’s cross for 1-0.
Granada 0 x 0 Celta Vigo
The last of Saturday’s action saw Granada host Celta Vigo with both sides looking to build on the three points they won last weekend. The match was a bit of a borefest though with Celta managing just two tame efforts on target whilst Granada failed to force Ruben Blanco into a single save.
It was the home side who came closest to winning the game though when Antonio Puertas powerfully headed goalwards only to be denied by both posts as the ball dramatically rolled along the goal line and, eventually, to safety.