A costly draw for Sevilla against Alavés means there is a little leeway at the top of the table for Barcelona and Real Madrid, who both picked up emphatic victories against Celta Vigo and Eibar.
Elsewhere in the league, Deportivo La Coruña defeated Sporting Gijón in a battle at the bottom of the table, and Las Palmas came from 2-1 down to beat Osasuna 5-2, with new signing Jesé Rodriguez scoring a brace.
The game week started on Friday, and what a way it was to kick of the new week of football, as Real Sociedad would beat Real Betis in a thrilling game which ended 3-2. The win means that they keep up the pressure on Atlético Madrid in 4th, staying just one point off of that Champions League qualification spot.
They would take the lead in the 9th minute through Jon Bautista, who controlled a ball over the top beautifully and slotted the ball home underneath Adan in the Betis net, but the home side were level minutes later, as Aissa Mandi acrobatically converted Daniel Ceballos’ cross with a beautiful bicycle kick.
Xabi Prieto put Sociedad back into the lead in the 26th minute with a brillaint shot from outside the box towards the far post, but again Betis were able to draw level, with Antonio Sanabria heading home in the second half.
Prieto, however, was not finished, as in the 72nd minute he had gotten his second of the game to finish off Betis. Mikel Oyarzabal with the ball to the back post, and Prieto was able to head the ball into the ground and past Adan.
Onto Saturday’s games, and in the early kick-off, Leganes scored a late winner to sink relegation contenders Granada.
In the 83rd minute, Leganes were able to catch Granada on the break, and after some neat passing play, the ball was played across the box to Darwin Marchis to fire past his old side.
The win puts them five points ahead of Granada in the relegation zone, and after a win for Deportivo later on in the weekend, it leaves the the ‘Nazaríes’ four points off safety.
In the day’s next game, Real Madrid looked to rectify their slip-up against Las Palmas with a win over Eibar. And that they did, as a brace for Karim Benzema helped them to a 4-1 victory away from home.
The Frenchman opened the scoring in the 14th minute, latching onto the end of his own rebounded shot to give Real an early lead. He doubled his tally just over 10 minutes later, as he got onto the end of a James Rodríguez free-kick, prodding the ball home at the back post.
It was three before half time, as James and Benzema switched roles of becoming provider and goalscorer. This time it was Benzema with the ball in from the right, and the Colombian was there to slide in and convert home.
The Galácticos proved in this game that they do not need Ronaldo or Bale, as one of their replacements, Marco Asensio showed, grabbing his sides fourth goal in the 60th minute. The Spaniard started the move, driving towards goal before passing it across to James Rodríguez , whose shot hit the post, but Asensio was there to score on the half volley from a difficult angle.
Eibar were able to get one goal back through Ruben Peña, who converted Pedro Léon’s cross at the far post, but it would be nothing more than a consolation goal. The victory means that Real stay just one point behind Barca with a game in hand at the end of the week, but with the two still to meet in an El Clásico, this league is still very much up for grabs.
Villarreal kept up their chase for Champions League football next season with a 2-0 win against Espanyol.
The deadlock was broken just before half time, as after mad scramble in the opposing penalty area, Mario Gaspar was able to squeeze in a cross from the byline into Roberto Soriano, whose first touch finish beat Diego Lopez in the Espanyol goal.
Villarreal doubled their lead late into the second half, through an unfortunate own-goal from Lopez in goal. The Spaniard had done brilliantly to save an initial shot from Manu Trigueros, the rebound fell to Bakambu, whose shot hit the post and deflected in off the head of a helpless Lopez.
In the final game of the day, fans were once again treated in a Lionel Messi masterclass, as he inspired Barcelona to a 5-0 win over Celta Vigo.
The Argentine opened the scoring in typical Messi style, picking the ball up by the half way line before turning his man, driving towards goal, and then finishing low into the bottom corner from outside the box. It was a magnificent goal from the little maestro, who seems like he is right back at his best.
Barcelona got their second goal before half time, with Neymar getting back on the goal trail. Having not yet reached the goalscoring form of past seasons, the Brazilian got his second in his last two matches, with a rather cheeky chip over Sergio Álvarez after being put through by Messi.
Ivan Rakitić provided the third goal in the second half, slotted home a simple goal after some great passing play from his side. Just four minutes later, Samuel Umtiti got his first Barcelona goal, getting onto the end of a delightful ball across the box from Messi to make it 4-0.
After being involved in three goals already in the match, Messi would score his second and Barcelona’s fifth in the 64th minute. Running down the right, he was given the time to cut inside into the box, skip past one defender and as he turned away from goal momentarily, he placed a shot into the near post rather than the more likely looking far post, leaving the keeper flat footed and capping off a man of the match worthy performance.
Sunday’s games started with a battle at the bottom, and it was Deportivo La Coruña, who earned a massive point against Atlético Madrid in the week, who came out victorious against Sporting Gijón.
In their last outing against Barcelona, Sporting fielded a weakened side, in an attempt to prioritise their best players for this weekends game against Deportivo, but ultimately, the plan did not work out.
Deportivo were awarded a penalty in the 30th minute, after Mikel Vesga blocked the ball with his arm. No excusing this one, as the midfielders arm was held right in the air. Emre Çolak stepped up for the penalty, but Iván Cuéllar was able to save it to his left.
Deportivo would make up for it however in first half added time, through Pedro Mosquera. A deep corner from Faycal Fajr beat all the Sporting defenders, and Mosquera sneaked behind to stoop down and head home at the far post.
After a disappointing draw against Deportivo on Thursday, Atlético Madrid hit back with a 3-0 victory over Valencia, as they try and keep any hope of winning the league alive.
Antoine Griezmann once again was the difference for Atlético, as he opened the scoring in the 10th minute. Played in by Koke, the Frenchman unleashed an unstoppable shot with his left into the bottom corner, giving Diego Alves no chance.
Kevin Gameiro made it two early in the second half, as his powerful shot again gave the keeper no chance, blasting it to the far post from range.
Griezmann finished the game off with his second goal, running in through after what was a loose touch by Thomas, and he was able to tuck his sliding finish past the keeper. To celebrate, he brought out is patented ‘Griez-phone’ celebration, but will he and his teammates be celebrating come the end of the season?
Off the back of their 3-3 draw against Real Madrid, Las Palmas continued their goalscoring form with a 5-2 victory over bottom of the league Osasuna.
Former Real and PSG winger Jesé Rodriguez broke the deadlock in the 7th minute, with a brillaint half volleyed strike from the left of the goal.
But later into the half, Osasuna had drawn level. Javi Varas in the Las Palmas couldn’t keep hold of a low cross from the left and Kenan Kodro pounced upon the loose ball and tapped the ball home. Kodro was able to bag a second goal just six minutes later in the 37th minute, much to the shock of Las Palmas. The striker was given too much time in the centre of the box, and he was able to turn and fire a shot towards goal, going through the legs of Varas and in.
Osasuna had won just one game all season, so the odds of them winning this in the end seemed slim. But I don’t think even they expected the onslaught that Las Palmas would put on them in the second half.
The home side were level in the 55th minute, as Marko Livaja would get on the end of Roque Mesa’s cross and head the ball into the ground and in the net. 15 minutes later and they were in front. A horrible sliced clearance by Unai Garcia saw him slip, fall and put the ball into his own net under no pressure. A horrible mistake, but a very unfortunate goal to concede nonetheless.
From this point on Las Palmas cruised home. Roque Mesa, who is having a wonderful spell of games currently, made it 4-2 with a low finish into the bottom corner from outside the box. And Jesé got his second, and his sides fifth of the game, with an impressive driven finish past the keeper from inside the box.
Asides from the top sides, this was definitely the match of the weekend, and I would advise anyone who hasn’t to watch the highlights of this game.
Athletic Bilbao vs Malaga finished off Sunday’s matches, and it was the home side who edged a 1-0 win, as they keep hot on the heels of Villarreal in sixth.
The only goal of the game came through a penalty, as Iñaki Williams’ goal-bound shot rebounded off the arm of Camacho and onto the post, giving the referee no choice but to award a penalty.
Raul Garcia stepped up, and converted for Bilbao, burying the ball into the bottom left corner, giving Kameni no chance in the Malaga goal.
Finally, the last game of Matchweek 26 saw Sevilla travel to Alavés. A win was vital if Sevilla wanted to keep up the pressure on Real Madrid and Barcelona in the race for the title, but unfortunately they could only manage a 1-1 draw.
They would take the lead through Wissam Ben Yedder. Played through by Pablo Sarabia, the Frenchman would drive a low shot into the far post for his 15th goal of the season.
But in the 75th minute, Alavés were level. The ball is played into the box, and Sergio Rico’s attempts to read the direction of the ball but misses, with the ball hitting his hand and rebounding off of Aleksandar Katai, who just had to simply volley the ball into an empty net.
The result is not the end of the world for Sevilla, as they are still just three points behind Real Madrid (who do have a game in hand), and four behind Barcelona. However, a win would have closed the chance, and really given them a chance, especially as Real and Barca still have to play each other. Whatever happens, this is leading to a very interesting finish to the season.