Real hold the lead of La Liga, despite Barcelona win

Real Madrid defeated Osasuna 1x4, coming back from an early goal to keep their lead.
Real Madrid defeated Osasuna 1x4, coming back from an early goal to keep their lead. Credits: Getty Images

Even though the Premier League is on a Winter break, La Liga does not stop in February. Barcelona were obligated to amend if they wanted to keep track of Real Madrid.

Both rivals won their games, ensuring the distance is still the same from last weekend. On 3rd, Getafe starts to get leverage. Check out the La Liga table.

Osasuna 1 x 4 Real Madrid

When Real Madrid kicked off their game at Osasuna they knew Barcelona would be hoping for a slip up to give them a chance to go level on points later on Sunday. The win on the derby last weekend was a motivation for Real Madrid.

On 15, it seemed the hosts might answer Barca wishes as Unai Garcia beat Thibaut Courtois with a diving header following a corner.

The lead was no more than Osasuna deserved after a bright start but shortly after the half-hour mark Real stepped up a level.

On 33, Isco profited from a fortuitous bounce in the home box and slammed home a volley that gave Sergio Herrera absolutely no chance and just five minutes later Real were in front.

Jovic back on the scoresheet

Luka Modric delivered a corner from the left-hand side, Casemiro won a header at the back post to keep things alive and Sergio Ramos headed in from a yard out for 1-2.

It remained like that with little goalmouth activity until 84 when Karim Benzema teed up Lucas Vazquez who beat Herrera – who might feel he could have done better – to make the three points safe.

Then, in injury time, Luka Jovic added some extra gloss for Zinedine Zidane’s men by rifling into the roof of the net after an unselfish ball from Federico Valverde. It was only the 2nd goal in La Liga for the Serbian striker.

Real Betis 2 x 3 Barcelona

Barcelona traveled to face Real Betis in the last match of the weekend knowing anything less than a win would see Real extend their lead at the summit of La Liga. Things got off to a disastrous start as, on 6, Clement Lenglet was penalized – and booked – for a handball in the area.

Sergio Canales put Betis 1-0 up from the spot. The hosts lead didn’t last long though; just three minutes later they were exposed by a Lionel Messi ball over the top. Frenkie de Jong did the rest, controlling well and finishing smartly, to make it 1-1.

You might have expected the equalizer to swing momentum back to Barca. It didn’t quite work like that and on 26 the home side re-took the lead through Nabil Fekir who hit a low drive across Marc Andre Ter Stegen.

Quique Setien looked set for a tough half time team talk after a less than perfect week what with the Messi-Abidal aggro. They restored parity in the third minute of stoppage time. Messi was again involved as his free-kick was turned in by Sergio Busquets for 2-2.

Lenglet: from hero to villain

In the second period, it took until 72 but Barca finally went in front and it was cruel on Betis. Messi again assisted but this time it was Lenglet who put his name in lights with a looping header that Robles couldn’t reach as his footing. He gave way at the crucial moment ensuring the ball ended up in his net.

Just four minutes later, Lenglet was caught by Fekir who was booked but the Betis man reacted angrily and received his marching orders. It ensured Barca had a goal and a man advantage for the remaining 14 minutes – or so they thought.

Just a few minutes later Lenglet also pulled up for a foul on Joaquin and, given he was booked for his early handball, the ref had no choice but to give him his marching orders.

Despite having 10 players apiece on the field, Betis failed to trouble Ter Stegen in the closing stages and Barca remains close to Real.

Getafe 3 x 0 Valencia

Getafe is hot on the heels of the top two in La Liga whilst their visitors, Valencia, have their eyes on a top-four finish. The home side was dominant in the first half without being able to beat Jaume Domenech in the Valencia goal.

Domenech was eventually beaten on 57 though; the keeper reacted well to stop Jaime Mata’s low drive but his center-half Mouctar Diakhaby was slow to react to the loose ball and Jorge Molina gobbled up for 1-0.

Molina grabbed his brace on 67 by turning three players inside out before lifting the ball into the net from 10 yards. Valencia, who had barely laid a glove on their opponent, were reduced to 10 men on 78.

Alessandro Florenzi, who was making only his second appearance for the club, made a woeful scissor tackle on Marc Cucurella to see red.

With just a few minutes left, Getafe made things safe with a third goal as Mata netted after good work from substitute Angel.

Espanyol 1 x 0 Mallorca

If ever the phrase ‘a six-pointer’ was genuine then Espanyol versus Mallorca was it. If Mallorca won then Espanyol would have been six points from safety but a home victory would have moved Espanyol level on points with their visitors.

The match was an evenly contested affair but although Mallorca had a penalty award overturned by VAR it was Espanyol showing the more attacking intent and Raul de Tomas headed them ahead on 58 when he beat Lumor Agbenyenu to Sergi Darder’s cross.

That’s how it remained, and it is undoubtedly a huge win for Espanyol.

Celta Vigo 2 x 1 Sevilla

Celta Vigo took on Sevilla on Sunday evening knowing a win would move them out of the bottom three after Espanyol’s win over Mallorca and they came out of the traps quickly with Iago Aspas and Brais Mendez both threatening.

Despite the good start, on 23, Sevilla took the lead as Yousef En-Nesyri took advantage of some kamikaze defending before emphatically beating Ruben Blanco for 0-1.

Given the fact Celta struggle for goals, it looked a long way back for the hosts and it took until 78 for the score to be leveled up at 1-1. Rafinha threaded an intricate pass into Aspas and he rounded Tomas Vaclik before forcing home from a tight angle.

With 91 minutes on the clock, Celta grabbed a dramatic – and probably deserved – winner. Sisto, who was introduced at the break and had looked dangerous throughout the second 45, got in down the left and fired a low shot beyond Vaclik and in off the post to send the Balaidos crowd into wild celebration.

Atletico Madrid 1 x 0 Granada

Atletico Madrid welcomed Granada to the Wanda Metropolitana on Saturday evening looking to stop a run of five games without a win.

The hosts got off to a super start with Angel Correa netting from Koke’s pass.

The match was a dull affair with Granada not troubling Jan Oblak until late on. Roberto Soldado produced a clever flick to force the big Slovenian to react quickly but it was far too little, far too late.

After failing to win on the last 3 matches, this victory gives a bit of relief to Diego Simeone’s hopes to continue as manager of Atletico.

Real Sociedad 2 x 1 Athletic Bilbao

A win at Real Sociedad would have put Athletic Bilbao right in the mix for a top six finish but the hosts are no pushovers – as their midweek Copa Del Rey win over Real Madrid proves.

There wasn’t much to write home about with Portu and Alexander Isak having the best chances of the game for Sociedad and on 65 they combined for the opener.

Isak showed smart feet in the box to buy half a yard and cut back to Portu who gently found the top corner from six yards for 1-0.

Swedish Isak seals the winner

Bilbao had offered next to nothing in the match but six minutes later they were level through substitute Inaki Williams. It was a fellow substitute, Iker Muniain, who slid Williams through on goal and he produced a cool finish to make it 1-1.

The action was far from over though as on 83 Sociedad won the game and it was the same duo that linked up; Portu backheeled to Isak and, although Unai Simon stopped his first effort, the Swede reacted quickly to make it 2-1.

Of course, this was the Basque derby and emotions can run high and Muniain saw red for Bilbao late on as he went in rashly on Mikel Oyarzabal.

Alaves 2 x 1 Eibar

Friday night saw Alaves host Eibar in a fixture that could have significant ramifications in the relegation battle. Despite hovering above the bottom three, Eibar has been in the reasonable form of late with five points from the last nine but after a dull first half, Alaves took the lead on 46.

Lucas Perez – who was subbed on at the interval – delicately rolling the ball past Marko Dmitrovic after he was picked out by strike partner Joselu.

On 66, the home side doubled their lead. Aleix Vidal crossed from the left flank and after it was seemingly running beyond everyone, Oliver Burke arrived from the right-hand side to hit a strike back across Dmitrovic and into the net.

Eibar halved the scoreline on 83 with an 18-yard effort by Fabian Orellana but Alaves saw out the last few moments with ease.

Levante 2 x 0 Leganes

Leganes came into their game with Levante off the back of a good win over Real Sociedad last time out but it wasn’t to be this weekend. Levante took a 20th-minute lead with the first real attack; Enis Bardhi cut back from the by-line and Ruben Rochina expertly dispatched a left-footed finish past Juan Soriano for 1-0.

Just eight minutes later it was 2-0. Tono drove down the left-wing and crossed into the area where Roger cushioned a volley into the back of the net.

It was a comfortable 90 minutes for the hosts and if anyone was going to grab the third goal it was going to be them rather than Leganes, who remain in big trouble.

Real Valladolid 1 x 1 Villarreal

Valladolid played host to Villarreal knowing they’d have their work cut out to take much off the side chasing European soccer next season. The home crowd soon had something to cheer though as their side took the lead on 15.

Sandro did well on the right-hand side of the box as he waited for support to arrive and when he finally crossed Ruben Alcaraz fired a volley into the bottom corner for 1-0.

Real Valladolid really ought to have added to their lead when Villarreal defender Funes Mori inadvertently played Sandro through on goal but the Everton loanee failed to hit the target.

Hatem Ben Arfa debuts

After the break, Villarreal made Sandro pay for that missed opportunity when Gerard Moreno slammed into the roof of the net from close range on 54 after Valladolid failed to deal with a corner.

New signing Hatem Ben Arfa, former PSG and Newcastle midfielder, came in as a substitute at the 78 minutes. The Frenchman did not make much impact and he saw Villarreal getting close to edge the winner.

The away side had a splendid chance to win the match late on when Paco Alcacer found himself one on one with Jordi Masip. However, he struck his effort the wrong side of the upright.

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