La Liga Review: Top two pull further away

Updated: February 6, 2012

Real Madrid and Barcelona opened the gap at the top over the weekend with respective wins as third place Valencia drew 0-0 with Atletico Madrid.

League leaders Real Madrid edged past Getafe 1-0 away from home in a close encounter which saw Getafe lose at home for only the second time this season.

Sergio Ramos’ headed goal from a Mesut Ozil corner was enough to separate the sides, despite chances for Gonazalo Higuain, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that Getafe ‘keeper Miguel Moya was equal to.

Barcelona knew they had to match Madrid’s result to keep the league alive as they played Real Sociedad in the late match on Saturday and Pep Guardiola’s side beat their opponents by the same margin as their rivals, with goals from Tello and Leo Messi which saw off Sociedad 2-1.

Barca opened the scoring when Tello finished from Messi’s perfectly weighted pass in the 8th minute of the game, and Messi looked to have wrapped things up in the 71st minute when he converted Dani Alves’ cross but Sociedad struck back straight away through Arsenal loan player Carlos Vela to make for a nervy finish for the Spanish champions.

The game of the day was undoubtedly the 3-3 draw played out by Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol after a late goal from Espanyol’s Juan Albin stole the points from Bilbao.

The home team took the lead through Oscar de Marcos after poor handling from Espanyol ‘keeper Kiko Casilla in the 25th minute but the away side equalised just seven minutes later with a brilliant strike by midfielder Romaric.

Espanyol then took the lead two minutes into the second half when Man City’s on-loan Vladimir Weiss beat the Bilbao ‘keeper from 35 yards, but Fernando Llorente’s header from a free kick levelled the scores once again ten minutes later.

Javi Martinez’s header in the 64th minute looked like the winner until substitute Albin popped up with the late equaliser in stoppage time.

The result leaves Espanyol and Bilbao as they were in 5th and 6th place respectively, with Espanyol level on points with 4th place Levante who drew 1-1 witn Racing Santander on Saturday; Arouna Kone’s first half goal was cancelled out by Santander’s Manuel Arana’s 66th minute strike.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Mallorca beat Real Betis 1-0 at home as Chori Castro got the goal in a game marred by red cards; Ivan Ramis and Joao Victor both received their marching orders late on for Mallorca while Mario was sent off for Betis.

On Sunday, Diego Simeone maintained Atletico Madrid’s unbeaten streak in the league as well as their no goals conceded record under his management as they drew 0-0 with Valencia, condemning Unai Emery’s side to their fifth consecutive game without a win.

Villarreal climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win away win over Sevilla after goals from Borja Valero and Javier Camunas cancelled out Bruno’s early own goal; Juan Oriol was shown a late red card for the Yellow Submarine.

A late goal from Dejan Lekic secured a 1-1 draw for Osasuna away from home against Sporting Gijon after Carmelo’s first half goal had put the home team ahead.

Bottom-place Real Zaragoza were condemned to another defeat after two late second half goals from Rayo Vallecano secured the away side the three points with a 2-1 win; Helder Postiga put Zaragoza ahead only for Diego Costa and Michu to win the game for the away side.

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