Real wins Madrid derby and holds onto the lead

Karim Benzema goal
Karim Benzema single goal gave Real Madrid the win over Atletico. Credits: Getty Images

The matchday 22 of La Liga was headlined by the Madrid derby. As predicted by previous results, Real was in better form and proved on the pitch. The result was tight, but Diego Simeone continues under fire.

Meanwhile, in Barcelona, the ‘Blaugrana’ received Levante and had an unusual protagonist. 17-year-old Ansu Fati who stole the show. Check out how the La Liga table unfolds.

Real Madrid 1 x 0 Atletico Madrid

The highlight of the fixture list was undoubtedly the Madrid derby, which took place at the Bernabeu on Saturday. Atletico came into the match on a four-game losing streak whilst Real haven’t lost since October.

It was the away side who had the best of the opening 45 minutes with Vitolo forcing Thibaut Courtois into action with a low drive and then Angel Correa beat the big Belgian from a tight angle only to see his strike cannon off the outside of the post.

Real upped their efforts in the second period and a long-range effort from Federico Valverde forced Jan Oblak into his first real stop of the day. On 56, Real took the lead.

Vinicius Junior played in the overlapping Ferland Mendy and the left-back whipped in a perfect ball that Karim Benzema turned in from six yards out. Atletico pushed for an equalizer but was kept at arm’s length by the Real defense.

Barcelona 2 x 1 Levante

Barcelona took on Levante in the last match of the weekend knowing anything less than a win would allow Madrid to open up a cushion at the top of La Liga.

It took the hosts half an hour to find the breakthrough and when it came it was 17-year old Fati who notched after latching on to a sublime Lionel Messi through ball.

Just a few seconds later the same pair combined, Messi played the ball to Fati who had little of the goal to aim at but his hit towards the near post somehow went through Aitor Fernandez for 2-0.

In the second half, it almost looked as if Barca came off the gas and had it not been for Marc Andre Ter, Stegen Levante could easily have got back in the tie.

The away side did eventually pull a goal back but Ruben Rochina’s long-range strike – that ter Stegen should have dealt with – came in the 92nd minute and meant there was no time to grab a second.

Leganes 2 x 1 Real Sociedad

Leganes faced a tough match at home to Real Sociedad who were boosted by the fact Willian Jose was still a part of their team – albeit on the bench – with the transfer window now shut.

Early on Martin Braithwaite was denied by an instinctive Alex Remiro save and then, on 20, at the other end Sociedad went 0-1 up through Alexander Isak’s 18-yard strike after a poor clearance by Leganes keeper Juan Soriano.

Just four minutes into the second period Leganes found themselves back level thanks to a calmly stroked finished from Kenneth Omeruo.

The game looked destined to end 1-1 but in the 94th minute, Oscar Rodriguez planted a belting free-kick into the top pocket of Remiro’s goal to clinch what could prove a vital three points come to the end of the season.

Javi Aguirre seems to be able to pull Leganes out of the relegation zone. Will the manager operate the miracle?

Granada 2 x 1 Espanyol

Espanyol traveled to take on Granada in the weekend’s first match aiming to move off the foot of the table. On 27, they were given the chance to do just that when Domingos Duarte tripped Raul de Tomas in the box.

De Tomas dusted himself down to take the resultant penalty and sent Rui Silva the wrong way for 0-1.

Sergi Darder had a golden chance to double the advantage but fired hopelessly over and then Silva batted away a powerful effort from De Tomas to keep the match firmly in the balance.

On 38, Espanyol was made to pay for their missed opportunities. Carlos Fernandez split the Espanyol defense wide open and Darwin Machis slipped the ball under Diego Lopez.

1-1 at the interval wasn’t the worst thing in the world for Espanyol but immediately after second-half kick-off, they fell behind. This time Fernandez was the scorer, showing great footwork in the box before bending a right-footed shot into the top corner.

The away side was agonizingly close to grabbing a deserved point but de Tomas saw his header bounce off the post, back across the goal and out.

Athletic Bilbao 0 x 2 Getafe

Athletic Bilbao took on high flying Getafe on Sunday and it proved a tough encounter against the side who were aiming for three successive league wins. The match was a little cagey, to begin with. But, on 36, Damian Suarez danced between Yeray and Unai Lopez before finding the bottom corner.

Getafe remained the better side and on 50 doubled their lead to two goals through a Jaime Mata penalty, which was awarded – maybe harshly – for a handball by Inigo Lekue.

Bilbao is on a poor run in the league and the only time they threatened the away goal was a rasping Ibai Gomez shot, which struck the underneath of the crossbar.

Valencia 1 x 0 Celta Vigo

A look at the league table would tell you that Valencia were heavy favorites for their home match against Celta Vigo but it proved a tougher game than many expected.

Ruben Blanco produced fine stops to keep out Daniel Wass and Alessandro Florenzi. Celta’s attacking intent was all going through Iago Aspas who went close to giving the strugglers a 0-1 lead with a 20-yard free-kick but Daniel Parejo headed off the line.

It proved a key moment in the match as 77 Valencia struck what proved to be the only goal of the affair. It was a scrappy build-up with failed clearances in the Celta defense but Carlos Soler arrived right on time to confidently beat Blanco for 1-0.

Celta applied themselves well throughout but if they don’t start taking their chances then it’s going to be a tough few months ahead.

Mallorca 0 x 1 Real Valladolid

Mallorca hosted Real Valladolid on Saturday knowing a win would suck their opponent right into the thick of the relegation battle and it looked like they’d taken a first-half lead when Daniel Rodriguez lashed home from Lumor’s cut back but the ball had already gone out of play ensuring things remained at 0-0.

The score stayed like that until the 56th minute. Sergi Guardiola’s first cross was blocked but his second attempt was ferociously delivered to the six-yard area. Enes Unal headed into the roof of the net with what proved to be the winner.

Villarreal 3 x 1 Osasuna

Villarreal took on an Osasuna side still reeling from the confirmation that their hotshot striker Chimy Avila is out for the season and the Yellow Submarine showed little mercy.

The game looked like being goalless at the half time whistle but a raking Manu Trigueros pass exposed a high and square backline and debutant Paco Alcacer – a recent signing from Dortmund – raced clear before beating Sergio Herrera with ease.

In the second half, Aridane Hernandez caused havoc in the Villarreal box but headed narrowly wide from a deep free-kick but the hosts didn’t learn and just moments later, on 48, Hernandez headed in Roberto Torres’ corner for 1-1.

Unfortunately, for Osasuna, it didn’t take long for Villarreal to get their noses back in front. On 54, Ruben Pena had pushed on from the left-back position and, after stepping past the rash tackle of Nacho Vidal, curled a low finish into the bottom corner and just five minutes later it was 3-1.

Alcacer was played in on goal and Hernandez barged him in the back; the defender surprisingly avoided a red card but Santi Cazorla provided the worst kind of punishment. He converted from the spot to leave Osasuna a mountain to climb – and it proved an insurmountable advantage.

Eibar 1 x 1 Real Betis

Eibar are hovering dangerously above the relegation places and a few results going against them could easily see them in trouble and they found themselves behind to Real Betis after just seven minutes.

A clever corner routine saw Nabil Fekir drop out of the area and as the ball was rolled to the edge of the area and the French international sent a left-footed shot into the corner of Marko Dmitrovic’s net.

Just eight minutes later, Takashi Inui was scythed down in the box by Edgar Gonzalez and Fabian Orellana bagged from the spot to make it 1-1. That was that for first half action and although Betis had the ball in the net in the second, Borja Iglesias’ close-range effort was chalked off for offside.

Eibar wasn’t completely back to the wall though, and Inui forced Joel Robles into a fine reaction stop to keep it even stevens.

Sevilla 1 x 1 Alaves

Sevilla still has an outside chance of putting pressure on the top two and a home game against Alaves was, on paper, a decent fixture for them to gain another three points.

The hosts were dominant for an hour but failed to stretch Fernando Pacheco and on 70 Alaves landed a sucker punch. Manu Garcia headed a wide set piece back across goal, Tomas Vaclik parried into the danger zone and Joselu buried the loose ball for 0-1.

Sevilla only trailed for seven minutes as Lucas Ocampos stroked home a penalty after a debatable award for handball – the controversy being the distance between ball and defender – but all in all, a draw was the least the home side deserved.

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