Real Madrid lose, ending a 22-game winning streak – but Barcelona fail to capitalize and are cut down by an early own goal. Meanwhile, Athletico win handily due to a Frenchman’s heroics and pull even with Barcelona in 2nd place.
Athletico Madrid (3) – Levante (1)
Two headed goals from Antoine Griezmann led the home team to a 3-1 win to start the new year. Levante scored in the 61st minute on a close shot by Nabil El Zhar, but a final goal from Diego Gorin firmly awarded the three points to Madrid, pulling Athletico tied with Barcelona in 2nd place. The big news of the transfer window so far (obviously we’re just getting started) was the signing of Fernando Torres, who was announced to the Calderon crowd, but unavailable until Monday to suit up for game action.
Sevilla FC (1) – Celta Vigo (0)
A straight red card to Carles Planas 20 minutes in meant that Celta Vigo would be fighting for their lives the entire match. As it turned out, they were generally the better team, although a beautiful Pareja free kick into the far corner of the net proved to be enough to get Sevilla the victory. Although it means that Sevilla moves into 4th place, there should be much concern about the lack of dominating form displayed – especially when playing with a man advantage for 70+ minutes. Multiple times, the visitors came close to grabbing a point, and the second half was tense instead of a breeze for the home squad.
Elche (2) – Villarreal (2)
Two goals inside the first 20 minutes had Villarreal confident of retaining 4th place in the standings, but a 26th minute counter-attack goal from Elche followed by a Victor Rodriguez rifle shot not two minutes later changed the course of the day. Despite several good efforts in the second half – mainly from the visitors – neither team was able to change the scoreline, and Villarreal falls to 5th in the standings.
Deportivo La Coruña (1) – Athletic Bilbao (0)
Looking to climb clear of relegation, Deportivo La Coruña needed a victory, and Ivan Cavaleiro provided the only goal from either team in a somewhat relaxed game. Although Athlecitc came out in the second half and applied more pressure, the Benfica-loanee Cavaleiro’s goal was enough when combined with a staunch defensive effort from Deportivo.
Malaga (1) – Almeria (2)
Juan Ignacio Martinez has had a nice introduction at Almeria, winning to capture his third straight win. Hemed provided two goals, including one from the spot to counter a great goal from Malaga’s Samuel Garcia. The loss ends a four game winning streak for Malaga, who fought valiantly, but could not get an equalizer in the dying minutes.
Getafe (1) – Rayo Vallecano (2)
Getafe took the early lead after an Alvaro Vazquez free kick put them ahead in the 2nd minute. Rayo Vallecano answered with a goal from Jozabed before the break and a close range finish from Raul Baena after 60 minutes to complete the comeback and grab all three points. Getafe is in flux, with their coach preparing to leave, but fought well and were close to grabbing an equalizer in the final half hour.
Valencia (2) – Real Madrid (1)
An early penalty goal from Christiano Ronaldo gave the visitors the lead. After dominating the first half, though, Madrid came out and gave up two goals early in the second half, to Antonio Barragan and Nicolas Otamendi. In a game in which Valencia was looking to “beat up” Los Blancos physically, Valencia had six players booked but the scoreline still showed victory. Both teams looked poised to score in the final minutes, but neither could, and Madrid’s 22-game winning streak came to an end at Valencia, where only Barcelona have won this year.
Espanyol (1) – Eibar (1)
The surprise team of the campaign, Eibar, win again with two goals in close succession from Manu del Moral and Eneko Boveda near the 34th minute. Although Felipe Caicedo was able to convert for Espanyol, they were unable to avoid their second home defeat this season. Noticeably missing for Espanyol were Christian Stuani and Lucas Vazquez, both of whom were suspended but would have been a great help to the Catalan side.
Real Sociedad (1) – Barcelona (0)
An early error by Jordi Alba meant that Barcelona would be forced into a much more attacking formation – something that Luis Enrique did not plan for. Starting the game with Messi and Neymar on the bench, Enrique was hoping for a more possession controlled game and a chance to rest his two attackers. Instead, they were both brought on in the second half, yet still could not get an equalizer. Sociedad moved up to 13th in the table after the win, their third straight over Barcelona, and Barcelona wasted a chance to take the lead in La Liga over their rivals from Madrid.
Cordoba – Granada
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