La Liga Round 21 Results: Malaga and Valencia both record narrow 3-2 victories
Manuel Pellegrini's outfit retain their Champions League position, meanwhile there are important victories for Rayo and Levante
By Martin Macdonald
10-man Celta Vigo held on for a 1-1 draw against in-form Real Sociedad at Balaidos on Saturday afternoon.
The opening stages of the match saw neither side stamp their authority on the match, but the game burst into life on the half-hour mark when the hosts went ahead. Iago Aspas wonderfully back-heeled the ball into the path of Michael Krohn-Delhi, and the Dane expertly drilled home from inside the box.
Celta were soon on the backfoot, however, as they conceded a goal and went down to 10 men within the first 15 minutes of the second half. Augusto Fernandez was shown a second yellow card for a handball and just before the hour mark, Gorka Elustondo powered in a header from a corner to draw Sociedad level.
Markel Bergara came close to handing the visitors the lead when his shot crashed against the post, but the remaining minutes did have a lot of goalmouth action, ensuring the honours remained even until the final whistle.LEVANTE 2-1 VALLADOLID
An unfortunate own goal from Antonio Rukavina in stoppage time handed Levante a 2-1 victory over Valladolid on Saturday evening.
The game actually started perfectly for the away side, as they took the lead after just eight minutes. Javier Baraja latched on to a loose ball from a corner kick and sweetly volleyed in his first goal of the campaign from the edge of the area.
Levante responded well, but saw a string of shots stopped by in-form goalkeeper Dani Hernandez. They eventually got the better of the Valladolid man two minutes before half time when Jose Barkero curled a lovely left-footed free kick into the corner of the net.
Miroslav Dukic’s men enjoyed the majority of the possession in the second half, but all their good work was undone in the dying minutes when Valdo’s attempt at goal inside the box deflected off Rukavina into his own net, gifting the points to Levante.ZARAGOZA 0-0 ESPANYOL
The points were shared at La Romareda as Zaragoza and Espanyol played out a La Liga stalemate on Saturday evening.
The first half was a relative non-event, with neither goalkeeper being called into serious action in the opening 45 minutes. The second period was brighter, and Christian Stuani had the first decent opportunity to open the scoring 64 minutes in when he powered a header towards goal, only to see his attempt brilliantly stopped by Zaragoza goalkeeper, Roberto Gago.
Both sides exchanged long-range strikes as the second half progressed, but the only real drama in the closing stages saw two players given their marching order. Javi Lopez and Cristian Sapunaru were both given second bookings for their respective teams, in what turned out to be goalless match at La Romareda.DEPORTIVO 2-3 VALENCIA
A last-gasp header from Ricardo Costa gave Valencia a narrow 3-2 victory over Deportivo in an entertaining La Liga clash at the Riazor.
Los Che got off to the perfect start, and went ahead with just just 30 seconds on the clock. Pablo Piatti hung a corner kick into the box and Jonas looped a header into the far corner.
However, the bottom team in La Liga responded excellently, with a brace from Riki giving the hosts the lead going into half time. The 32-year-old powered a header home from six yards and, 13 minutes later, cut in from the right-hand side before lashing a strike past Diego Alves.
Depor suffered a blow shortly after the break when Silvio was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Piatti. Valencia got on level terms 63 minutes in when Nelson Valdez got in front of his marker to turn Juan Bernat’s cross into the near post.
The match looked destined to end at 2-2, but Ernesto Valverde’s men stole the points in stoppage time when Costa headed in at the back post from Andres Guardado’s cross. Any hope Deportivo had of an unlikely comeback was shredded when Assuncao was shown a red card for an elbow on Valdez.
RAYO 3-0 REAL BETIS
Rayo Vallecano moved within a point of La Liga Champions League spot with a routine 3-0 defeat of Real Betis at Vallecas.
The Madrid side got off to a flyer, and registered a goal within just four minutes. Andrija Delibasic was fouled by Betis goalkeeper, Adrian, inside the area and Piti stepped up to score in his 200th appearance for the club.
Roberto Trashorras came within inches of doubling the lead before the break when his strike hit the woodwork, but the hosts would have to wait until 19 minutes into the second half to get their second goal. Casado’s cross from the left-hand side broke to Delibasic, and the Serbian sent a piledriver of a shot past Adrian in the Betis goal.
Jose Carlos completed the rout for Rayo with 8 minutes remaining when he evaded two challenges inside the box before curling home.
MALLORCA 2-3 MALAGA
Malaga recovered from a late scare to come out with a narrow 3-2 win over Mallorca at the Iberostar stadium.
Javier Saviola got the ball rolling for his side in just the 10th minute when he latched on to a poor clearance from Mallorca to smash home with a volley. Isco doubled the lead six minutes later when he arrived late at the back post to blasts in from Nacho Monreal’s cross.
Victor Casadesus got the Islanders back into the match before the half-hour mark when he headed in from Tomer Hemed’s cross.
However, Malaga got the all-important next goal in the match shortly after the hour mark when Monreal rocketed a shot past Mallorca goalkeeper, Juan Calatayud.
A tense end to the match was ensured for Manuel Pellegrini’s men when Giovani dos Santos curled in a 25-yard free kick and Martin Demichelis was sent off, but Mallorca failed to gain from their man advantage, and the points went home with Malaga.
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