Conor Smith reviews all the games from Matchday 6 in La Liga
Matchday 6 proved an absolute curse for Real Betis and an absolute blessing for Atletico Madrid. The two sides played each other first and foremost to begin Matchday 6 on Wesnesday night. Both teams had fixtures to fulfill as they were playing catch-up to the rest of the league. Atletico travelled to the south of Spain on the back of a winning streak of 3 straight games. They continued their fine form where they succeeded to produce a spirited performance in a 4-2 thriller. Real Betis took the lead twice through Salvador Agra and Juan Carlos but were thwarted by Atletico Madrid’s danger man Radamel Falcao on both occasions. Falcao notched up his 6th and 7th La Liga goals respectively in these instances to put him top of the Pichichi. Atletico had gathered the momentum as a result of this fightback after the half-time break and got the vital goal to put them into the lead in the 55th minute, courtesy of a Diego Costa finish – ghosting in at the far-post from a corner kick delivery. Raul Garcia rounded off the goal-scoring for Atletico to rub salt in the wound for Betis, who lost Joel Campbell for a supposed hand-ball offense. However, the referee seemed to make a meal out of it and the officials will come in for some scrutiny in La Liga for what looked like a penalty for Betis at the time.
The fixture list certainly wasn’t kind to Betis and they had to recover from this defeat by travelling to in-form side Malaga on the weekend. Betis had the wind knocked out of their sail once more as they were trounced 4-0 and had two players sent off. Joaquin got the home side off to the start they wanted, slotting away a 13th minute penalty. Javier Saviola doubled their lead close to the half-hour mark. An own-goal from Amaya killed off any hope of a Betis fight-back in the second half and Isco heaped the final piece of misery on Betis with a delightful chipped finish from a Roque Santa Cruz through-ball. Betis still remain in the top half of the table in 9th position after these two defeats.
Atletico were given the gift of another day’s rest before they played Espanyol on Sunday night. Albeit with the chance for the players to recuperate, they weren’t impressive against their guests at the Vicente Calderon but Diego Simeone will be happy with his side completing their task with a 1-0 win. Espanyol looked to park the bus, so to speak, and certainly made things difficult for Atletico. They managed to do so reasonably well until the home side broke the deadlock through a Raul Garcia header after 30 minutes. The solitary goal proved to be the winner in a dour affair which keeps Atletico on the heels of Barcelona.
Barcelona completed a dramatic comeback against Sevilla to take all 3 points in a thrilling encounter that ended 3-2 to the visitors. Tito Villanova’s side looked to be heading for their first defeat of the season when Piotr Trochowski and Alvaro Negredo put Sevilla into a much deserved 2-0 lead. Fabregas pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute with a 25 yard strike. The turning point in the game was undoubtedly the sending off of Gary Medel for making apparent contact with Fabregas – the former Arsenal man did make the most of the situation though with some outrageous simulation. The controversy in the match didn’t stop there and Barcelona’s equaliser came when Thiago Alcantara looked to handle the ball before setting up Messi to give the ball through to Fabregas to finish with aplomb, sending the Barcelona fans into raptures. The delight for the away side didn’t stop there and Barcelona did what they did best – piled forward for the winner. Lionel Messi and David Villa may have been quarreling the previous week but the two exchanged some slick passes before Villa added the deadly finish past the Sevilla keeper Palop for a famous win.
Real Sociedad earned a deserved 2-0 victory in the Basque derby against Athletic Bilbao. Second half goals from Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela ensured the home side would get the points. Amorebieta received a second yellow card when he handled the ball in the box for the penalty which led to Sociedad’s second goal. Vela converted the penalty with consummate ease to continue Real Sociedad’s 100 per cent record at home this season.
Real Zaragoza slumped to their fourth defeat of the season as Valencia didn’t have too much trouble getting a 2-0 win. Sofiane Feghouli had an eventful match by all accounts, getting the opening goal in the first half at the second attempt and receiving his marching orders for a second bookable offense. Just before Feghouli’s sending off, Jonathan Viera raced in at the far post to put his name on the score-sheet and ensure breathing space for Valencia.
Osasuna finally got their first win of the campaign as Levante completely capitulated towards the end of the game and gifted their opponents a 4-0 triumph. Following a dire first half, Osasuna opened the scoring through Emiliano Armenteros 10 minutes into the second half. The defending was suspect from Levante all night and they were punished severely in the last 10 minutes. Osasuna ran riot with a Roland Lamah strike, a David Timor penalty and an injury-time finish from Nino, which gifted the home side their first three points to move off the bottom of the table.
A rout at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla as Vallodolid demolished Rayo Vallecano 6-1. Alejandro Dominguez gave Vallecano the lead with a low drive before Alberto Bueno equalised in similar fashion for Vallodolid. Braces from Manucho and Oscar Gonzalez either side of half-time and a strike into the roof of the net from Rukavina put the home side firmly in the driving seat.
A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick ensured that Real Madrid fully bounced back from the potential crisis that was – due to an easy 5-1 victory against Deportivo La Coruna. They were made to sweat when Riki gave Depor the lead on 16 minutes with a toe-poke finish. Real turned on the style and demonstrated their intent when two goals from Ronaldo and an Angel Di Maria finish – from a beautiful through-ball from Luka Modric – meant Real went in 3-1 at the break. A Xabi Alonso free-kick ended with Pepe getting his head on the ball to direct it into the back of the net to make it 4-1 to Real. Ronaldo rounded off the scoring with a second penalty to complete a good night for the home side.
Buoyed by their strong performance against Barcelona the week before, Granada moved out of the relegation zone and ended their wait for a first win of the season, winning 2-1 against Celta Vigo. All the goals from this match came in the first half with a fantastic early start from Granada as they came right out of the blocks and put themselves into a 2-0 lead within 17 minutes, courtesy of goals from Guilherme Siqueria and Gabriel Torje. Celta Vigo pulled a goal back minutes later through Iago Aspas, who fired the ball past keeper Tono after good work to cut through the Granada defense. Celta Vigo pressed for the equaliser, putting Granada under tremendous pressure. However, Tono remained up for the challenge and Granada held out for the win.
Another red card for the week in the game between Getafe and Real Mallorca where El Geta held on for a 1-0 win against the visiting team on Monday night. The sending off certainly shaped the match when Ximo received a red card for Mallorca, forcing the manager to change his plans early on. The match-winner came from Diego Castro less than five minutes after half time and Getafe held on to spoil Mallorca’s unbeaten record.
The big game of Matchday 7 is, without doubt, the clash of old rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid in the second El Clasico of the season (after the Super Cup). Always a controversial fixture, it will no doubt whet the appetite of any ardent supporter or neutral alike. Meanwhile, Malaga will fight with Atletico Madrid where there is all to play for for both sides. Malaga can move up to second with a win while Atletico can go top of the table if they win – that is of course if their local rivals Real Madrid do them a favour, by beating Barcelona. It promises to be an exciting Matchday for La Liga fans.