La Liga Matchday 25: The Catalan juggernaut rolls on as Madrid slip
Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna to slip to seven points behind Barcelona as the Catalan giants cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Mallorca courtesy goals from Lionel Messi, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez (MVP). MVP have now contributed 56 goals to the Barca goal tally which is more than the total goal tally of the complete Real Madrid team which stands at 55. Things look ominous for the Madrid club as Barca now have a firm hold on the La Liga trophy with a huge slip-up looking very unlikely.
With Xavi, Carlos Puyol, Daniel Alves and Victor Valdes missing from the lineup, Barca looked a little edgy during the early exchanges. Messi then scored his 26th league goal to edge ahead of Ronaldo in the hunt for the golden boot with a nice cushioning header over the Mallorca goalkeeper. Barca then poured forward with goals coming from Villa and Pedro completed the romp in true Barca style. Real were pretty unlucky not to have scored at the Estadio Riazor after battling hard with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Emmanuel Adebayor hitting the post late on in the game. Deportivo defended hard with the visiting coach Jose Mourinho even claiming they had 10 men in defence! What resulted was a drab draw and the hopes of a 32nd La Liga title looking quite bleak.
The chasing pack continued their hunt for European spots as Valencia strengthened their third position on the table with a 2-1 victory at Athletic Bilbao. Valencia had to chase the game after Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente slotted home in the 14th minute showing great strength in the box. With Llorente terrorizing the Valencia defence and Valencia pouring forward relentlessly, it was quite an open game. Valencia’s pressure finally paid off in the 71st minute with Juanma Mata poked in a cross at the far post setting the stage for a late winner from Brazilian striker Jonas in 81st minute. The win was much sweeter as 4th placed Villareal were held to a 2-2 draw against Racing Santandar earlier on during the weekend.
Villareal were looking very slugging possibly after a tough mid-week Europa League win against Napoli, with a very lacklustre first half performance which led to an opening goal from Ariel Nahuelpan just after 3 minutes. The Racing striker raced into the area to put the ball into the goal with a clinical header. With no real fightback from Villareal in the first half, the visitors labored on in the second half to finally find an opening in the 66th minute with substitute Marco Ruben pulling them level with a nice header. It did not last long. Tottenham Hotspur loanee Giovani Dos Santos then put the home side ahead with his first goal for the side from Cantabria in the 68th minute only for Brazilian striker Nilmar to nudge a 81st minute corner into the goal giving the Yellow Submarine a much needed draw. It kept them within 4 points of Valencia within touching distance of a direct Champions League spot.
In other matches, Espanyol bounced back from a hammering at Osasuno with a 4-1 romp against Real Sociedad to break a four game losing streak and Atletico Madrid rallied back twice to secure a 2-2 draw against Sevilla.
The game seesawed between the two teams at the Vicente Caldaron stadium with Sevilla breaking the deadlock with an opening goal courtesy an Alvaro Negredo volley in the 41st minute. Koke scored on his Atletico debut to equalize in the 47th minute only for Ivan Rakitic to put Sevilla ahead again in the 67th minute. Jose Antonio Reyes then equalized in the 76th minute to prevent Atletico from slumping to a fifth defeat in 6.
Espanyol moved 2 points ahead of Atletico into fifth position courtesy of a romp with goals from Alvaro Vasquez, Sergio Garcia, Jose Callejon and Javier Marquez with a consolation from Sociedad defender Daniel Estrada who helped turn in the first goal. A good result moving them closer to a guaranteed Europa League spot.
Sporting Gijon and Zaragoza drew 0-0 in a match of relegation-threatened teams. Getafe drew 0-0 at Hercules and Felipe Caicedo scoring the winner as Levante beat Osasuna 2-1.
Almeria play Malaga today.