La Liga 2016-17 roundup 2 October: Real Madrid held to a draw as Celta Vigo stun Barcelona again
It was a mixed weekend for the top clubs in Spain.
In what was a very eventful weekend of La Liga action, as both Real Madrid and Barcelona dropped points. There were some records broken as Diego Alves saved a couple of penalties for Valencia as well. With so much going on in the Spanish league, here is a report on matchday seven:
Celta stun Barcelona again
Celta Vigo have beaten Barcelona in each of the last two seasons, including a 4-1 drubbing last term, and they mounted a three-goal lead in the first half on Sunday.
Just past the half hour, Celta were two up. A punted clearance from Hugo Mallo was poorly dealt with by Barca and Gerard Pique was very poor in allowing Aspas to dribble to the edge of the box before drilling a left-footed strike into the far corner.
Barely a minute later there was more panic in the visitor’s defence allowing Daniel Wass to send a low cross to Aspas, but Jeremy Mathieu lunged in to divert the ball into his own net.
Half-time substitute Andres Iniesta sent a dipping cross from the left flank which allowed Pique to send a bullet header home. Six minutes later Barca were right back in it when Andre Gomes was felled by both Nemanja Radoja and Malla for a certain penalty and Neymar sent Sergio Alvarez the wrong way from the spot.
Celta had breathing space though once again on 77 minutes when Ter Stegen inexplicably clipped a backpass straight onto the head of Pablo Hernandez with the ball bouncing beyond the hapless German netminder and sending the home crowd wild.
Barca. however. resurrected their hopes once again three minutes from time when excellent work from Denis Suarez up the right flank was preceded by a cross which allowed Pique to head home from close range.
The La Liga champions poured everything forward from there but Celta held on as Barcelona fall to fourth place in the league table following their second defeat in seven league games.
Real Madrid held to fourth consecutive draw
The pressure on head coach Zinedine Zidane has cranked up a notch after Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Eibar at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Los Blancos were the better side against Villarreal, Las Palmas, Borussia Dortmund and once again against Los Armeros but couldn’t force a winner in any of those games.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play after just six minutes when Ander Capa sent over an excellent ball from the right wing and Fran Rico headed beyond Keylor Navas, though Pepe had had the chance to clear the ball with his head.
The equaliser came after 18 minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo sent a lovely ball to the back post from the left flank and Gareth Bale rose highest to power a header beyond the hapless Asier Riesgo.
From there, the hosts dominated the game but Eibar defended valiantly and the closest the European champions came to winning the game was when Bale hit a shot which struck the post after 60 minutes.
The home side pressed frantically for the winner as the final whistle neared but Mauro do Santos’ header which bounced off his own ‘keeper four minutes from time was the biggest scare in the closing stages as Los Armeros clung on for a famous point.
Two penalty saves in vein for Diego Alves as Atletico beat Valencia
Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves beat the all-time La Liga record for penalty saves last weekend and improved that record by a further two against Atletico Madrid but his side still lost 2-0 at La Mestalla.
The first penalty save came a minute before half-time when the game was scoreless. Alves has saved penalties from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and on the stroke of half-time, he dived to his left to produce a stunning stop from French star Antoine Griezmann.
The Euro 2016 leading scorer made up for his penalty miss shortly before the midpoint of the second when Kevin Gameiro latched onto a rebound to drag back to the 25-year-old to apply what for him was an easy finish.
Alves came up with yet another penalty save in the 70th minute, diving this time to his right to deny Gabi from 12 yards. Gameiro though sealed the points for the away side in injury time when he cut inside to send an effort under Alves and the Brazilian might feel that he could have done better.
Malaga pip Bilbao in fiery encounter
The home side lifted some of the pressure on head coach Juande Ramos as they rallied to come from behind against Athletic Bilbao to eventually win 2-1 at La Rosaleda.
Bilbao were quicker out of the blocks when Oscar de Marcos played a fantastically weighted pass to Aritz Aduriz. The 35-year-old controlled the ball well before finishing with composure past Carlos Kanemi for his fourth goal in his last four La Liga games.
The game’s turning point came ten minutes before half-time when Bilbao full-back Mikel Balenziaga was sent off for retaliating when Roberto Rosales put in a very heavy challenge on him.
Malaga levelled the scores when the under pressure Bilbao defence went to sleep when Duda’s corner looked to be going straight out of play eight minutes from time. Chory Castro did brilliantly to keep the ball in play before crossing to the right-hand side to Duda who fed Sandro Ramirez to finish with composure.
Within two minutes Malaga were ahead when Castro played a fine pass to Juan Carlos who set up Duda to send home the cross from six yards out. Malaga themselves finished with ten men when Bakary Kone was given his marching orders in the dying moments but Bilbao had no chance to get back into it.
Espanyol and Villarreal cancel each other out
Elsewhere Espanyol and Villarreal played out a drab 0-0 draw with little in the way of goalmouth incident or moments of note.
The draw takes Villarreal up to fifth place in the table with Espanyol standing on the cusp of the relegation zone.
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