It was a feisty old weekend in La Liga which had just about everything. Cristiano Ronaldo was booed, Barcelona scored except they didn’t, Diego Godin was caught spitting, while Nico Pareja received the quickest red card the league has seen for over a decade (less than two minutes since you ask).
Madrid move four points clear
After watching their title rivals all drop points, Madrid made no mistake stretching their lead to four points, with a comprehensive victory over Champions League chasing Real Sociedad. Mateo Kovacic scored his first ever Liga goal (it only took him 39 games) and then Ronaldo made it 13 in his last 13. The visitors were then reduced to 10 as Inigo Martinez was sent off, before substitute Alvaro Morata got in on the act. A great night for Madrid, who still have a game in hand remember, although the Bernabeu was still not happy, booing the team throughout in a fairly hostile atmosphere at times. There’s just no pleasing some people.
Barca fume after being denied goal
Barcelona were left fuming despite salvaging a late point at Betis. The hosts, who played well throughout and twice hit the woodwork took the lead through Alex after 74 minutes, and that’s when the fun started. Minutes later, Neymar went sprawling and before Barca even had time to claim for a penalty, Jordi Albi looked to have bundled the ball home, despite Aissa Mandi managing to clear. It certainly looked as though the ball was over the line, Barca were convinced and yet the referee said no. TV replays confirmed what we all suspected, that the ball was well over and has reignited the debate over goal-line technology which is not yet used in Spanish football. Luis Suarez calmed tempers somewhat, however, popping up to salvage a point late on that sends Barca second and now 5/2 to win the title.
Atletico to miss out on Champions League?
Like Barcelona, Atletico Madrid also slipped up as they were held to a third consecutive draw. In truth it could have been worse, Alaves managed 19 shots on goal and hit the bar but could not find a way past Miguel Ángel Moyà. Atleti, meanwhile, lost Jose Maria Gimenez to injury while Diego Godin and Alaves forward Deyverson are in hot water after appearing to spit at each other as tempers flared. Expect bans.
Sevilla stunned at Espanyol
Sevilla could have moved three points clear of Barcelona with victory but could probably tell it was going to be one of those afternoons when Nico Pareja was sent off with less than two minutes played, after bringing down Pablo Piatti as he raced through. The fastest La Liga sending off since 2003/04, impressive stuff. Jose Antonio Reyes promptly converted the penalty, and ran to the fans to apologise, as Espanyol took the lead. Stevan Jovetic continued his ridiculous form to equalise before Marc Navarro and Gerard Moreno finished off the 10 men.
Still no wins for Osasuna & Malaga
Osasuna looked set to give their survival hopes a huge boost when Goran Kausic gave the hosts the lead after 76 minutes. However, such is life at the bottom that they managed to maintain it for all of three minutes before Ignacio Camacho grabbed an equaliser. The result leaves Osasauna without a win since October, Malaga since November.
Villarreal enjoy first win of 2017
It’s taken six games but Villarreal have finally won again and picked up their first victory of 2017. The fact that it came against bottom side Granada will take some of the gloss of it, particularly as the visitors were awful yet again. Bruno Soriano opened the scoring just before half-time before Alvaro Gonzalez finished it off midway through the second half.
Deportivo downed by Eibar
Eibar started fast against Deportivo, Adrián González scoring after four minutes and Sergi Enrich adding a second 10 minutes later. The visitors responded through Emre Colak before Florian Lejeune made the game safe in the second half.
Much-changed Celta see off Leganes
Celta may have had one eye on Thursday’s Copa del Rey semi-final with Alaves but they still had far too much for Leganes. Álvaro Lemos opened the scoring and a John Guidetti penalty gave the visitors a 2-0 win.
Athletic comeback stuns Sporting
Sporting looked set to ease their relegation worries after Duje Čop put them ahead against Athletic Bilbao but the hosts had other ideas. Iker Muniain levelled before Aritz Aduriz broke visitors’ hearts.
Las Palmas continue home form
Las Palmas remain unbeatable at home after checking Valencia’s recent revival in an eventful 3-1 win. Santi Mina opened the scoring but Jonathan Vieira smashed one into the top corner to make it 1-1. Munir was then sent off after picking up two quick yellow cards before a brilliant Mauricio Lemos free kick put the hosts ahead. Kevin-Prince Boateng then took advantage of an awful Eliaquim Mangala slip to make it 3-1. Simone Zaza then thought he’d opened his account for his new club, only to be denied by the offside flag.
All La Liga Results, Week 20:
Osasuna 1-1 Malaga
Villarreal 2-0 Granada
Alaves 0-0 Atletico MAdrid
Eibar 3-1 Deportivo
Leganes 0-2 Celta Vigo
Betis 1-1 Barcelona
Espanyol 3-1 Sevilla
Athletic 2-1 Gijon
Real Madrid 3-0 Real Sociedad
Las Palmas 3-1 Valencia
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