La Liga Round 23 Results: Atletico lose ground at the top of the table and Malaga claim Champions League position
Diego Simeone's men were defeated in the Madrid derby, meanwhile there was important wins for Malaga, Valencia, and Espanyol
By Martin Macdonald
A last-gasp strike from Pedro Geromel snatched a point for Mallorca as the Islanders drew 1-1 with Osasuna on Saturday afternoon.
Giovani dos Santos and Ruben both had opportunities to put their respective sides ahead in the first half, but the opening goal didn’t come until the last quarter-hour.
Osasuna edged ahead 15 minutes from time when Lolo headed in Alvaro Cejudo’s corner kick from the edge of the six yard box.
However, the hosts claimed a point in the dying minutes when the Osasuna failed to clear a long punt up the park, giving Geromel the opportunity to head past Andres Fernandez, ensuring a steady start to Gregorio Manzano’s third spell as coach of the home side.CELTA VIGO 0-1 VALENCIA
A goal in the closing seconds from Nelson Valdez saw Valencia claim all three points with a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo at Balaidos.
Los Che were coming off a commendable draw with Barcelona last weekend, and started this match in the same vein. They came extremely close to taking the lead through two chances just before half time when Tino Costa’s attempt was cleared off the line and Adil Rami headed off the woodwork.
The points looked destined to be shared, but with barely any time remaining on the clock, Valencia substitute Nelson Valdez popped up to bullet a header home from Joao Pereira’s superb cross from the right-hand side.
The victory was perfect preparation for Valencia before they go on to face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League this week.LEVANTE 1-2 MALAGA
Isco netted a brace as Malaga moved back into the coveted fourth Champions League place in La Liga with a narrow 2-1 win over Levante on Saturday evening.
They didn’t get off to the best of starts though. Obafemi Martins was fouled inside the area by Martin Demichelis and Jose Barkero to dispatch the resulting penalty into the corner.
However, the visitors got back into the match with a spot kick of their own just 10 minutes later. Christian Lell was the perpetrator as he brought down Julio Baptista, allowing Isco to cooly convert the penalty.
The 20-year-old claimed his second goal of the match just two minutes into the second half when he directed Jeremy Toulalan’s cross from the right past Gustavo Munua in the Levante goal with a right-footed strike.DEPORTIVO 0-3 GRANADA
Deportivo’s hopes of avoiding relegation were dealt another blow as they were comfortably defeated 3-0 by Granada at the Riazor.
The hosts had a superb opportunity to take the lead just before the break when Diogo Salomao crossed in to Riki, but the Depor striker failed to react in time to make meaningful contact in the ball. This miss proved to be vital as a few minutes later they conceded when Nolito’s header bounced of Marchena for an own goal.
Granada netted their second six minutes after the break when Guillherme Siqueira squared for Odion Ighalo, who fired home from the edge of the area.
Further misery was heaped on misery in the last minute. Ighalo was brought down in the area by Manuel Pablo, who was subsequently sent off for dissent to the referee. Siqueira converted the penalty to rubberstamp the win.
ZARAGOZA 1-2 REAL SOCIEDAD
Real Sociedad moved up to eighth place in the Spanish Primera Division with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Real Zaragoza at La Romareda.
The visitors opened the scoring after just 10 minutes when Carlos Vela picked out Antoine Griezmann on the edge of the area and the Frenchman found the corner with a placed shot.
Zaragoza’s task was made ever harder 11 minutes later when debutant, Hector, saw red after two bookable offences.
Sociedad marched on, and doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark when Imanol Agirretxe displayed superb strength to fend off challenges inside the area, before smashing a strike into the top corner.
Apono netted a penalty in the dying minutes to earn a consolation for the hosts, but the game was already won for Sociedad.
ATHLETIC BILBAO 0-4 ESPANYOL
Athletic Bilbao’s three-match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end as they were comprehensively defeated 4-0 by Espanyol at San Mames on Sunday evening.
The Basque side actually started the better of the sides, and should have gone ahead through Jon Aurtenetxe and Oscar De Marcos. However, Espanyol took the lead against the run of play 28 minutes in when Hector Moreno headed home for his first goal in nearly a year.
A three-minute period in the second half saw the Barcelona-based side kill off the match. Victor Sanchez headed home just before the hour mark and Christian Stuani broke past a lazy Athletic defence to turn in Victor Alvarez’s cross from the right.
A horrible day at the office for the home side was compounded 15 minutes from time when Andoni Iraola brought down Alvarez inside the area. Joan Verdu missed his first opportunity from the penalty spot, but reacted quickest to stick in the rebound and round off a great day for Espanyol.
RAYO 2-1 ATLETICO MADRID
Atletico Madrid lost ground behind Barcelona at the top of the table as they were defeated 2-1 by Rayo in the Madrid derby.
The hosts got off to a perfect start and found themselves ahead after just three minutes. Cata Diaz failed to clear the danger inside the Atletico box and Lass Bangoura to full advantage to find the net from inside the six yard box.
Rayo doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark when Leo Baptisao got in front of Diaz at the front post to turn in Lass’s cross.
Radamel Falcao pegged the score back with a close range finish in the last minute, but it proved to be too little too late for Diego Simeone’s men.
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