Conor Smith takes a look back at events from Matchday 5 in La Liga
After struggling in their midweek Champions League opener against Spartak Moscow and almost suffering a severe scare, one would have thought that a game against relegation battlers Granada would have been the perfect way for Barcelona to get back to winning ways and continue their impressive league form. They were made to work tremendously hard for the victory though, thanks to a combination of defensive resistance and marvellous shot-stopping from goalkeeper Toño – making only his 4th appearance for the club – which easily made him the man-of-the-moment. It was going to take something special to secure a win for Barcelona and Xavi provided it with a spectacular shot from outside the box, hitting the underside of the bar. Granada had capitulated and Borja Gomez was unfortunate to force the ball into his own net in stoppage time to make the final result 2-0 to Barcelona.
Celta Vigo registered their second win of the season with a 2-1 victory at home to Getafe. Augusto Fernandez gave the home side the lead with a low drive but Getafe managed to level the match less than two minutes later, through Abdelaziz Barrada. The match was decided when on-loan forward Park Chu-Young cleverly turned in a cross from Michael Krohn-Dehli. The win moved Celta Vigo up to 11th in the table.
Goals from Helder Postiga and Apono ensured that Zaragoza bounced back from their previous week’s defeat to Real Sociedad with a 3-1 win over Osasuna. The win confirmed Osasuna would remain rooted to the bottom of La Liga. Emilio Armenteros had levelled for the travelling side but Zaragoza proved too strong an outfit at La Romareda.
The goals may have dried up somewhat since their opening 5-3 thriller with Atletico Madrid but Real Betis notched up three more points in La Liga, grinding out a 1-0 win against Espanyol. Brazilian defender Paulao towered over defenders to head a cross into the back of the Espanyol net and condemn the Barcelona side to their fourth defeat of the season.
Mallorca moved up to 2nd in the table after beating Valencia 2-0 at the Iberostar Estadi. The home side relied heavily on their keeper Dudu who produced several wonderful saves to keep Valencia at bay. Casadesus opened the scoring for Mallorca in the 8th minute. The Valencia keeper could have produced a better save for the first goal but could do nothing about the second as Arizmendi hammered a shot across the keeper’s path, giving him no chance.
Levante came from behind to win 2-1 against Real Sociedad with the much-travelled Nigerian international Obafemi Martins netting the winner on his debut for Levante. A superb long-range strike from Sociedad midfielder David Zurutuza midway through the first-half was cancelled out by former Real Sociedad player Jose Barkero, who slotted in a penalty in the 69th minute. Martins decided the game in the final few minutes with a superbly taken goal, out-pacing the last defender and placing the ball through the keeper’s legs.
A dull affair at the San Mames between Athletic Bilbao and Malaga as both sides played out a goal-less draw where the signs were obvious that each team was still recovering from their European games. Clear-cut chances were few and far between but Aduriz had the best chance of the game for Bilbao, getting caught in two minds at the vital moment. Manuel Pellegrini will be satisfied with the draw which keeps his side’s unbeaten record intact.
Atletico Madrid made it three wins on the bounce as they ran out 2-1 winners over promoted side Vallodolid. A neat finish from Diego Godin and a Falcao penalty put the side well on their way and although Bueno pulled one goal back – after a moment that Atletico keeper Thibaut Courtois would rather forget – it proved to be only a consolation for Miroslav Dukic’s side.
It was lights out for Rayo Vallecano at the second time of asking as Real Madrid laboured to 2-0 win on Monday night after the game had been re-scheduled because of sabotage from vandals. Karim Benzema gave Real the lead when he tapped in a cross from Di Maria in the 13th minute and Cristiano Ronaldo comfortably converted a spot kick in the second half, after his attempted cross was ridiculously hand-balled by on-loan Vallecano defender Jordi Amat . Real move up to 7th with this result.
There was a touch of good fortune for Sevilla’s second goal as they managed to defeat Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 at the Riazor. Alvaro Negredo had given the travelling team the opener with a typical “bread and butter” goal, getting himself into space where he couldn’t miss. Searching for the equaliser, an attempted long ball up-field from the Depor keeper was charged down by Ivan Rakitic and the ball conveniently bounced into the back of the net, to give Sevilla all three points.
After Matchday 5, Barcelona remain top of La Liga on 15 points and have opened up a 4 point gap. Granada, Espanyol and Osasuna all continue to go without wins as they occupy the relegation spots. The next Matchday sees Atlectio Madrid and Betis play two games each – one of these fixtures being against each other at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.