Barcelona vs. Real Sociedad  2 - 1

Article

La Liga wrap: Real maintain advantage

5 February 2012 04:11

Real Madrid maintained their seven-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga with the top two picking up wins on Saturday.

Sergio Ramos' header on 18 minutes was all that separated the league leaders and Getafe while Barcelona survived late pressure to defeat Real Sociedad 2-1.

Local rival Getafe started brightly at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez and almost took the lead on three minutes through Abdelaziz Barrada, but he blazed over the bar.

After Ramos' goal from Mesut Oezil's corner, Real rarely stepped out of second gear and despite creating few chances managed to end Getafe's six-game unbeaten streak.

Barcelona asserted their early dominance at Camp Nou to go ahead on nine minutes through Christian Mello, who poked home his first goal for the club after a neatly timed through ball from Lionel Messi.

It was not until the 72nd minute that the reigning champions extended their advantage.

Messi latched on to Dani Alves' clipped ball to cushion past the goalkeeper, ending the Argentine's three-game run without a goal.

Levante's hopes of catching city rivals Valencia in third place were dealt a blow with a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Racing Santander.

Arouna Kone put the hosts ahead on 23 minutes with a close-range header but Levante wasted further chances to go ahead.

Profligacy would cost them dear as Manuel Arana rescued a point for relegation-threatened Racing Santander with a fine finish into the top corner.

Athletic Bilbao conceded a late equaliser in an entertaining 3-3 draw with Espanyol, dropping points that would have seen them leapfrog Levante into fourth.

Juan Albin's ferocious shot in the 93rd minute stunned the home side who dominated the early stages and went ahead through Oscar 23 minutes in.

Romaric and Vladimir Weiss scored to put the visitors ahead before Fernando Llorente made it 2-2 in the 58th minute.

Bilbao clung to Javi Martinez's 65th minute goal that put them up 3-2 before the late drama unfolded.

Chori Castro scored the only goal, in the first half, as nine-man Real Mallorca held on to beat Real Betis 1-0.

Mallorca almost extended their lead in the second half following Castro's curled free kick but saw Ivan Ramis and Victor both sent off late in the match.

Earlier, Mario suffered the same fate for Betis, but with little time left the visitors failed to make their numerical advantage count.

Article

La Liga preview: Barca need a Pep talk

4 February 2012 02:28

Barcelona are losing ground on La Liga leaders Real Madrid and desperately need to beat Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's men have drawn three consecutive games in all competitions, including a 0-0 result at Villarreal last time out in the league.

As a consequence, they have allowed fierce rivals Real Madrid to move seven points clear at the top.

A home clash against Real Sociedad on Saturday could help them kick-start their campaign, unbeaten at the Nou Camp in their last 28 league matches.

The star-studded Barcelona will be hopeful Argentine maestro Lionel Messi (22 league goals) can find the net having failed to score in the three draws leading into this encounter.

While Barcelona may have knocked them out of the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid have taken full advantage in the league.

Jose Mourinho's side have won five consecutive league games, although a trip to face Getafe on Saturday shapes as a danger game.

Manager Luis Garcia Plaza's men are unbeaten in six league outings, but will need to stop the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (24 league goals) and Gonzalo Higuain (14) if they are to extend that run.

Meanwhile, Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao meet in a clash between the sides placed fifth and sixth respectively.

Marcelo Bielsa's Bilbao should be eyeing fifth spot with Espanyol failing to win in their last 10 league visits to Estadio San Mames.

In another intriguing clash, seventh-placed Atletico Madrid host Unai Emery's Valencia on Sunday.

Diego Simeone has had a dream start as Atletico Madrid boss, with three wins and a draw in his four games in charge.

But that unbeaten record will be put to the test by Valencia, who are unbeaten in five outings in all competitions and have had striker Roberto Soldado (12 league goals) firing.

In other matches, Mallorca host Real Betis on Saturday, while Racing Santander travel to Levante.

Assistant coach Inaki Tejada will take on first-team duties at struggling Sporting Gijon when they host Osasuna after Manuel Preciado was sacked on Tuesday.

Villarreal travel to Sevilla on Sunday, relegation battlers Real Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano clash, while Malaga visit Granada on Monday.

Article

La Liga wrap: Real maintain advantage

20 November 2011 03:59

Real Madrid held off a late rally from Valencia to win 3-2 on Saturday, preserving their three-point lead over Barcelona in La Liga.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring for visitors Real 20 minutes into the match at Estadio Mestalla.

The France international controlled a quick free-kick from Xabi Alonso with his left foot before rifling a fantastic volley into the back of the net from 18 yards out.

Real had to wait until the 72nd minute to find net again, with defender Sergio Ramos heading home from Mesut Oezil's corner.

The goal appeared to give Madrid the breathing space they needed to see out the rest of the game.

Valencia, however, saw the situation differently, as Roberto Soldado volleyed through a crowded penalty area to make it 2-1 on 75 minutes.

Four minutes later and Cristiano Ronaldo restored Real's two-goal buffer, slotting home from the tightest of angles after Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves overcommitted.

But the end-to-end nature of the game was not over yet, as Soldado grabbed a second following some superb build-up play from substitute Pablo.

The match ended in controversy, with Valencia's players surrounding the referee after Ronaldo appeared to stop a last-minute goal-bound effort with his arm.

Jose Mourinho's team survived the appeals to record the win, which sees them remain top by three points from champions Barcelona, who eased to a 4-0 victory at home to Real Zaragoza.

Centre-back Gerard Pique opened the scoring through a header 18 minutes into the match at Camp Nou.

Argentine star Lionel Messi made it 2-0 three minutes before the break, finding space to shoot after being played in by Cesc Fabregas.

Veteran skipper Carles Puyol scrambled home a third from close range on 54 minutes.

And David Villa completed the scoring with 15 minutes remaining, netting a diving header at the back post for his first league goal since September.

In the other match on Saturday, Borja Valero's 21st-minute effort was enough for Villarreal to see off promoted team Real Betis 1-0 at home.

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +89 100
2 38 +85 91
3 38 +15 61
4 38 +1 58
5 38 +7 56
6 38 +4 55
7 38 -17 54
8 38 -4 52
9 38 +1 50
10 38 -3 49
11 38 -11 47
12 38 -6 47
13 38 -9 47
14 38 -10 46
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -25 43
17 38 -21 42
18 38 -14 41
19 38 -27 37
20 38 -35 27