Despite another below par performance Real Madrid took another three points from their visit to Getafe. A goal from Sergio Ramos after 65 minutes gave them a narrow 0-1 victory which keeps them on top of La Liga for another week.
Madrid coach Bernd Schuster continued with his policy of rotations. Today he left Guti on the substitutes bench and played an untried centre midfield pairing of Gago and Drenthe which didn’t really work at all. Robben started his first game on the left side of the attack, and Raul was played as the only out-and-out striker.
Getafe dominated the game and had plenty of chances to score, but a mixture of bad luck, poor finishing and good goalkeeping from Iker Casillas meant another goalless game for Michael Laudrup’s team. In the first half Manu Del Moral came the closest to scoring when he shot against the post after 19 minutes.
Madrid improved slightly in the second half when Guti came on. In the 65th minute Raul found Robben in a possible offside position, however the flag stayed down and Robben’s cross was bravely converted by Sergio Ramos who had made a great run from his own half. Ramos dedicated the goal to ex-team mate Antonio Puerta who tragically died four weeks ago.
Getafe kept pushing forward and were nearly punished ten minutes from the end when Baptista shot against the post. Then in the 89th minute Getafe almost equalized when Cata Diaz headed against the crossbar. It wasn’t to be for Getafe who remain second from bottom with only two points.
Barcelona kept up the pressure on Madrid with an easy win 1-4 over bottom club Levante. Thierry Henry got his first league goals in Spain scoring Barça’s first three goals. This was a bit more like the old Henry who is improving every week. However, the best goal of the game came from Leo Messi after dribbling past a defender and coolly picking his spot.
The bad news for Barça was an injury to Toure Yaya who will now be out for a month. Frank Rijkaard may have a problem to find a suitable substitute but he’ll probably give the job to Rafa Marquez who played in the defensive midfield role during the 2004/5 season. With Carles Puyol back after three month out injured there are plenty of options for the centre of defence. For a full report on Levante-Barça go to http://fcbnews.com/levante-1-barca-4/
Villarreal stay second after a complicated 1-0 win over Atletic Bilbao. Athletic were the better team in the first half but Aduriz just missed with a header from their best chance. Villarreal were much better in the second half and won thanks to a header from Fuentes after a cross from Marcos Senna. Ex-Man United forward Giuseppe Rossi had a good game and nearly made it 2-0 in the 90th minute but Iraizoz saved well.
An early goal from David Villa gave Valencia a deserved 0-1 win against Recreativo. In the fifth minute Villa received a long pass from Marchena before dribbling past Recre’s keeper Sorrentino to score. Recre might have equalized when the referee missed a handball by Valencia’s Morettia after a shot from Martins. To make matters worse for Recre, Martins was sent off for protesting.
Sevilla’s problems continue, they lost at Zaragosa despite having the better of the game. D’Alessandro scored Zaragosa’s first with a direct free kick after 52 minutes, and then five minutes from the end Sergio Garcia made it 2-0. Sevilla have now lost four games on the trot.
Betis got their first win of the season to climb out of the relegation zone, beating Mallorca 3-0. Mallorca suffered after the first half sending off of Ballesteros for elbowing Caffa. Betis took advantage with second half goals from Xisco, Sobis from 25 yards, and Edu.
Atletico Madrid kept up their challenge with a 2-0 victory over Osasuna. Raul Garcia scored a cracker from outside the area after 37 minutes to give Atletico the lead. Then in the 81st minute Agüero ran from his own half beating a defender for speed before smashing home his fifth goal of the season. The win keeps Atletico in fifth place.
Espanyol move up to sixth after beating Deportivo, a Raul Tamudo header on the stroke of half time gave them a 1-0 win. Deportivo had the better chances but poor finishing let them down, they now find themselves third from bottom.
Valladolid paid the price of having two men sent off in the first half, losing 1-4 at home to Murcia. Cifuentes went after 23 minutes and goalkeeper Butelle was sent off in the 32nd minute. De Lucas scored first for Murcia after 27 minutes, but Llorente equalized just after half time. The nine men couldn’t hold on and three goals in the last 15 minutes from Baiano, Ivan Alonso and Abel, who scored with a classy chip, gave Murcia the three points.
Finally, Racing Santander got their first away win this season winning 0-1 at Almeria. A corner from Jordi in the sixth minute was turned in at the far post by Garay for the only goal of the game.
Nig writes on the Barcelona blog.