Diego Simeone’s men were held against city rivals, Getafe, meanwhile there was vital wins for Depor, Espanyol, and Valencia
By Martin Macdonald
GRANADA 1-5 BETIS
Real Betis now find themselves within four points of the Champions League places in La Liga after a 5-1 hammering over Granada at Los Carmenes.
The visitors probed for the opening goal from the start, but it wasn’t until midway through the first when the deadlock was broken with a trio of quickfire strikes.
Ruben Castro picked up the ball in the centre of the box and fired a shot into the bottom left corner, then doubled his tally just two minutes later with a close-range tap in from a few yards out after Dorlan Pabon’s chip crashed off the bar.
It got worse for Granada a few moments later when Inigo Lopez bundled the ball into his own net to make it 3-0.
The home side had barely any time to get themselves sorted after the break and eventually found themselves four goals down eight minutes in after Pabon sweeped home after a pass from Castro.
Lucas Alcaraz’s men finally had some joy in the 72nd minute when Carlos Aranda nodded home, but things turned sour once again a couple of minutes later when Guilherme Siqueira was shown a second yellow card and subsequently sent off.
Angel Lopez completed the rout for Betis when he finished off a pacey counterattack by coolly finishing into the bottom corner, ensuring Pepe Mel’s men took home a comfortable three points.
DEPORTIVO 3-2 REAL ZARAGOZA
Deportivo’s incredible resurgence in recent weeks continued on Saturday night when they came out 3-2 winners over relegation fighters, Real Zaragoza.
The home side had already beaten fellow strugglers Celta Vigo and Mallorca in recent weeks, and then the trend looked set to continue 11 minutes in when Bruno Gama rounded off a terrific team move by ghosting past a defender and driving a shot into the bottom corner.
However, Zaragoza clawed a goal back five minutes later when Aythami Artiles handled inside the area and Helder Postiga netted the resulting penalty.
The game was turned on it’s head 10 minutes before the break when Jose Movilla slid a pass through the middle for Francisco Montanes who dashed towards goal before superbly chipping the ball over the oncoming Daniel Aranzubia.
This didn’t seem to perturb the hosts too much, though, and they managed to equalise five minutes later when Carlos Marchena volleyed in from a few yards out.
A horrible afternoon for Abraham was in store. The defender turned the ball into his own net to make it 3-2 Depor and then got himself sent off, leaving Zaragoza with an uphill task to get back into the match.
Deportivo have now moved off the bottom of the table for the first time since the beginning of December.
CELTA VIGO 0-2 RAYO
Celta Vigo remain joint-bottom of the Spanish Primera Division after going down 2-0 to Rayo Vallecano at Balaidos on Sunday.
The Madrid side made their intentions known early, and almost took the lead five minutes in when Leo Baptistao found himself one-on-one with Javi Varas, but the Celta keeper made himself big to make the save.
However, they took the lead just nine minutes later. Lass Bangoura displayed quick feet and trickery to drive into the box from the left-and side and fizz a cross into the box, which Piticheekily back-heeled home.
The absence of the suspended Iago Aspas up top for Celta proved to be detrimental to the attacking play of the home side, as they failed to muster up a sustained period of pressure on Rayo at any point.
Leo struck the post in the second half but then had to be withdrawn due to injury. His, replacement, Andrija Delibasic confirmed Rayo’s first away with for nearly three months when he got on the end of Jose Casado’s cross to cushion a shot into the net.
OSASUNA 0-2 ESPANYOL
Espanyol further distanced themselves from the relegation zone with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Osasuna at El Sadar.
The Barcelona-based side came out of the blocks with intent, and almost took the lead just four minutes in when Sergio Garcia blasted a strike at goal which was somehow turned onto the bar by goalkeeper, Andres Fernandez.
The opening goal of the match came from a set-piece six minutes after half time. Mubarak Wakaso curled a corner kick into the area and Hector Moreno rose above everyone to glance a header beyond Fernandez into the corner.
Osasuna thought they had equalised 22 minutes from time when Nino headed home, but the goal was correctly ruled as offside.
Wakaso took the match beyond the home side in stoppage time when he got beyond the opposition back line and drove towards goal before jinking the ball past Fernadnez to slot into the corner.
GETAFE 0-0 ATLETICO MADRID
Nine-man Atletico Madrid lost ground on second-placed Real Madrid on Sunday as they played out a 0-0 stalemate against Getafe at Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Radamel Falcao featured for Los Colchoneros, but his predatory instincts in front of goal were not up to his usual high standards. He should have gave the visitors the lead six minutes in when he got on the end of a pass from Diego Costa six yards out, but ended up screwing his shot wide.
The Colombian then glanced a decent header towards goal shortly before the break, but goalkeeper, Jordi Codina, was equal to it and made the save.
In the end, Diego Simeone’s men would have left quite pleased with a point as they were reduced to nine men in the second half. Mario Suarez earned a second yellow card for a silly handball and Diego Godin was given his marching orders and a second booking for an elbow on Alvaro Vazquez.
Both sides failed to muster up any kind of chances in the remaining minutes, ensuring the honours were even.
VALENCIA 2-1 REAL VALLADOLID
A late goal from Jonas saw Valencia climb up to 5th place in the Primera Division with a narrow 2-1 victory over Valladolid on Sunday.
The visitors acquitted themselves well in the middle of park, leaving Valencia nothing more than a few scraps up top. However, their decent start was undone five minutes before the break when Mikel Balenziaga unluckily turned the ball into his own net following a corner kick.
Roberto Soldado had the opportunity to double the lead from the penalty sport ten minutes into the second period, but saw his strike superbly saved by Dani Hernandez.
Valladolid continued to push for an equaliser, and found their goal 20 minutes from time when Antonio Rukavina galloped down the right and reversed a cross to the edge of the box for Oscar Gonzalez, who whipped a fantastic strike into the top right corner.
The match looked destined to remain 1-1, but two minutes from time Jonas popped up at the front post to glance into the far corner, sending the Mestalla faithful into raptures.