La Liga Round 17 Results: Atletico continue perfect home record and Ernesto Valverde earns first win at the Mestalla as Valencia boss
An Adrian Lopez finish in the second half ensured Diego Simeone's men continue their 100% record at the Vicente Calderon, meanwhile there was wins for Mallorca and Espanyol
By Martin Macdonald
Three goals in the second half from Rayo saw the capital club run out emphatic 3-0 winners over Levante on Thursday evening in the Spanish Primera Division.
Levante were coming into the match in fine form, having only been defeated by Barcelona and Real Madrid in their last 10 games, but fell behind on the hour mark thanks to a goal from Nacho Martinez. The 23-year-old picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and rifled a left-footed shot into the top corner.
The hosts doubled their lead again in spectacular style 10 minutes from time when Piti curled a superb free kick into the top bag from 30 yards. Franco Vazquez then made it 3-0 in injury time when he pounced on a parried save from Gustavo Munua to slot home.ESPANYOL 2-0 DEPORTIVO
The relegation clash at the bottom of La Liga between Espanyol and Deportivo was decided by a goal in either half from Simao and Christian Stuani for the Barcelona outfit.
Both sides were tied on just 12 points in the league heading into the match, and exchanged chances in the opening stages, with goalkeepers Francisco Casilla and German Lux being kept busy. However, it was the home side who drew first blood just after the half-hour mark when Simao scored with a looping header over the keeper’ from 12 yards.
The vital 2-0 win was sealed for Espanyol two minutes from time when Stuani picked up a pass from Raul Baena and drilled a low shot past Lux in the Deportivo goal.REAL SOCIEDAD 2-1 SEVILLA
An Alberto de la Bella strike 20 minutes from time earned a 2-1 win for Real Sociedad over 10-man Sevilla at the Anoeta.
The hosts came out of the blocks quickly in the first half, and their early domination resulted in a goal 18 minutes in. Carlos Vela collected a neat pass from Antoine Griezmann and fired low past Diego Lopez in the Sevilla goal.
Michel Gonzalez’s men did eventually manage to grab an equaliser four minutes into the second half when Gary Medel picked up the ball on the edge of the box and wonderfully curled the ball into the far corner.
However, the home side restored their lead in the 69th minute when Carlos Martinez ran on the overlap down the right-hand side before fizzing a cross to the back post, and De la Bella was there to slide home to extend Sociedad’s unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions.VALENCIA 4-2 GETAFE
Ernesto Valverde earned his first win at the Mestalla as Valencia boss as his side side came out 4-2 winners over Getafe in the Spanish Primera Division.
The hosts made a perfect start to the match, and took the lead in the first minute when Roberto Soldado headed home from Sofiane Feghouli's cross. The Valencia captain then turned provider five minutes later when he picked out Jonas on the edge of the box, and the Brazilian found the top corner with a fine strike.
Getafe responded quickly and clawed a goal back five minutes later when Alvaro Vasquez finished expertly after latching on to a pass from Xavi Torres through the middle. However, Ricardo Costa restored the two-goal advantage for Valencia on the half-hour mark when he headed in from a corner kick.
A nervous finish was ensured for the hosts when Alexis nodded home from a corner kick for Getafe on the hour mark, but all fears were put to rest in the closing stages when Nelson Valdez stroked home from Jonathan Viera’s pass to make the final score 4-2.
ATLETICO MADRID 1-0 CELTA
Atletico Madrid continued their perfect home record in all competitions with a narrow 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo on Friday night.
Diego Simeone’s men were coming off a damaging defeat to Barcelona last weekend, and they struggled to get the better of Celta’s dogged defence for the majority of the match, with Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa both squandering decent chances inside the box in the first period.
The second half was also mostly barren of chances, but Los Colchoneros snatched the points in spectacular fashion 13 minutes from time. Adrian Lopez latched on to a loose ball 20 yards from goal and fired a half-volley into the top corner, ensuring Atletico’s 100% record at home this season was kept intact.
REAL BETIS 1-2 MALLORCA
Mallorca recorded their first win in 15 matches with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin on Saturday afternoon.
It was actually the Seville side who took the lead after just five minutes when Benat’s free kick from the wing bounced straight through the Mallorca defence and evaded everyone in the area to find the corner.
However, the Islanders rallied and equalised half-an-hour in when Victor Casadesus powered in a header at the near post following a cross from Kevin Garcia. The game was turned on its head two minutes after the break when Mario was judged to have brought down Victor inside the area. Javi Marquez expertly dispatched the penalty to make it 2-1 to Mallorca.
Betis resorted to long-range strikes in an attempt to find an equaliser as the game progressed, but Mallorca held out for a vital win in their battle against relegation.
OSASUNA 1-2 GRANADA
Goals either side of the break from Mainz and Daniel Benitez lifted Granada out of the relegation zone into 15th position in La Liga as Juan Antonio Anquela’s outfit came out 2-1 winners over Osasuna.
Los Rojillos actually started the match the better and managed to find the opening goal after just seven minutes when Nino headed home totally unmarked inside the box.
However, Granada equalised minutes before the break when Mainz rose highest in the box to nod in from Benitez’s free kick. The comeback was completed just a couple of minutes after the restart when Benitez arrowed a shot home from 25 yards, with Andres Fernandez in the Osasuna goal having no chance.
Granada then sat back and soaked up a fair amount of pressure from the hosts, but held out for a vital three La Liga points.
ATHLETIC 0-2 ZARAGOZA
Goals in the first half from Apono and Helder Postiga were enough for Zaragoza to run out comfortable 2-0 winners over Athletic Bilbao at San Mames.
The visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark when Victor Rodriguez stole the ball inside the are but was brought down by Jon Aurtenetxe’s recovery tackle. Apono stepped up to dispatch the penalty to make it 1-0.
The lead was doubled three minutes before half-time when Gorka Iraizoz’s punched clearance was sent back into the box by Apono, and with the goalkeeper out of position, Postiga showed composure to collect and slot home.
The visitors held out without much danger coming from Athletic in the second half.
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