La Liga: Real Madrid move four points clear after Barcelona lose
Madrid, Feb 23 Real Madrid took advantage of a shock defeat to FC Barcelona to move back to four points clear at the top of the La Liga. Second half goals from Karim Benzema and a fine header from Cristiano Ronaldo gave Madrid their 2-0 away win over strugglers Elche Sunday, reports Xinhua.
More significant than the Real performance, which was again less than spectacular, was the fact that Carlo Ancelotti's side once again hold the destiny of the La Liga in their own hands. Real were given the chance to do that thanks to Barcelona's 0-1 defeat at home against Malaga at the Camp Nou stadium.
Malaga had lost on their previous 12 visits to the Camp Nou. But Juanmi's eighth-minute goal, which saw him take advantage of a dreadful error by defender Dani Alves, was enough to take all three points against the Catalans. Barcelona were well below their best just three days before facing Manchester City in the Champions League.
Atletico Madrid also closed the gap on Barcelona with a routine 3-0 win over struggling Almeria. Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring from the penalty spot after just 13 minutes and then helped set up Antoine Griezmann twice to make it 3-0 before the half hour. With the game under control Atletico then saved their strength for next weekend's Champions League trip to face Bayer Leverkusen.
Valencia remain fourth after a deserved, but hard fought win away to Cordoba CF, who are now rock bottom of the La Liga table after five consecutive defeats. Andre Gomes and Pablo Piatti, who had a huge slice of luck when his miss-hit shot fooled the Cordoba goalkeeper, sent the points back to Valencia, while Nabil Ghilas scored a penalty for the home side.
Real Sociedad come back from 3-2 down to beat Sevilla at the death
Valencia's win took on extra value, when fifth-placed Sevilla lost a thrilling game 4-3 away to Real Sociedad. In what was by far the most entertaining match of the weekend, Sociedad twice went ahead thanks to goals from Imanol Agirretxe and a Xabi Prieto penalty. But they were pegged back by strikes from Kolodziejczak and Carlos Bacca.
A Kevin Gameiro penalty then put Sevilla in front for the first time with just 12 minutes remaining. But the game had two further twists as an Arribas own goal levelled matters after 84 minutes and a Prieto header won the game for the home side in the last minute.
Sixth-placed Villarreal closed the gap on Sevilla thanks to a fortunate 1-0 win at home to SD Eibar, who have now lost five consecutive games. A 71st minute shot from Vietto squeezed under the body of Eibar goalkeeper Xabi Irureta to give Villarreal all three points.
Athletic Club Bilbao will breathe a lot easier after Aritz Aduriz's 85th minute goal handed the Basque outfit their first home win in the league since November. Athletic's 1-0 win over Rayo Vallecano lifts them eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Saturday saw Celta Vigo, who look to have recovered some form after a dreadful run, beat local rivals Deportivo la Coruna 2-0 in the Galician derby. The round of matches finishes with a relegation duel between Levante and Granada.