La Liga Review: Narrow Real win helps maintain gap

Real Madrid edged past Real Betis 3-2 on Saturday to keep their lead at the top of the Spanish Primera Division to 10 points, as Barcelona also won on Sunday.

The current league leaders were made to work for the three points however as Real Betis took the lead in the 10th minute of the game through Jorge Molina.

Gonzalo Higuain pulled the away side level in the 25th minute and Real Madrid took the lead in the 52nd minute when Cristiano Ronaldo tucked away a chance set up by Brazilian full back Marcelo.

The lead didn’t last long however, as Alvaro Arbeola’s failed clearance from a corner allowed Jefferson Montero to shoot and score in the 55th minute to put the home team back on even terms.

Real Betis can feel aggrieved they were not awarded a penalty in the 65th minute when Xavi Alonso handled the ball inside his own box but the referee gave nothing, and seven minutes later Real Madrid had the ball in the back of the net when Ronaldo got on the end of the Betis ‘keeper’s parried save from a corner.

Malaga climbed up to fourth in the table on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Levante courtesy of a Salomon Rondon goal; the result leaves Malaga just four points off Valencia in third place.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Sporting Gijon shocked Sevilla with a 1-0 home win thanks to a goal from Andre Castro which allowed his team to jump up one place in the league to 18th, while Real Sociedad beat bottom-side Real Zaragoza 3-0; Imanol Agirretxe grabbed a brace while Arsenal’s loan signing Carlos Vela got the other.

On Sunday, Barcelona looked to be slowly getting over their poor away from as they beat Racing Santander 2-0 as Leo Messi scored both goals in a clinical win for the champions.

Messi opened the scoring in the 28th minute and scored from the spot for his second, after the referee awarded a controversial penalty when Cesc Fabregas went down following a challenge from Alvaro; there was minimal contact and the former Arsenal captain made the most of the foul but the penalty was given.

Barcelona had a number of chances but a mixture of bad luck and Racing ‘keeper Mario Fernandez meant they were limited to the two goals to help keep in touch with Real Madrid at the top of the table.

A hat-trick from Kalu Uche helped Espanyol hammer Rayo Vallecano 5-1 at home as on-loan Inter Milan signing Philippe Coutinho grabbed a brace; Raul Tamudo scored a consolation goal for the away side.

Atletico Madrid continued their impressive league form with a 2-0 win over Granada at home as Joao Miranda and Falcao got the goals for Diego Simeone’s new and improved side, following their emphatic victory over Besiktas in the Europa League on Thursday.

Athletic Bilbao could not repeat their European form however, as they lost 2-1 away from home at the hands of Osasuna; Fernando Llorente pulled a goal back for the away side after an 8th minute own goal from Ander Iturraspe and a Raul Garcia goal put the home side two in front in the first half.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Valencia’s form stuttered again as they drew 2-2 with Real Mallorca at the Mestalla; Tino Costa and Aritz Aduriz put the home side two goals to the good in the first half only for Mallorca to battle back and equalise with goals from Emilio Nsue and Joao Victor.


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