Álvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo spared Real Madrid’s blushes yet again as Los Blancos avoided a damaging defeat to Levante. The pair both scored in stoppage time after Nabil El Zhar looked to have given Levante something from the game with an 86th-minute strike to make it 2-1. Yet again, Madrid had to rescue a game they could easily have lost as their opponents made it difficult. Twice Madrid had to come from behind after Baba Diawara gave the home side the lead. Sergio Ramos poked home an equalizer but Madrid failed to kill off the game until the final stages. Carlo Ancelotti has struggled to get Madrid playing their best football this season and he must know more than anyone that Madrid cannot keep leaving it late and playing so turgidly to seal their victories.
In the absence of Lionel Messi, Alexis Sánchez starred with two goals in a 4-1 win over Valladolid. The Chilean, who had a wretched start to last season but managed to edge David Villa out of the side with a strong finish, has looked deadly in the few games he’s played in this campaign. He could easily have had a hat-trick but unselfishly chose to pass to Neymar to score Barcelona’s third. This turned out to be the highlight of Neymar’s evening who endured an awkward match thanks to some rough treatment from the Valladolid defence. The Brazilian had two penalty appeals waved away by the referee who was clearly familiar with the new striker’s tendency for simulation. However on reflection, Neymar had two strong cases for penalties, which caused much fuss following the game.
Real Sociedad boss Jagoba Arrasate felt an “unfair penalty” tarnished Ray Vallecano’s win after he saw his side succumb to an 89th-minute spot-kick to La Liga’s basement side. Replays suggested Arrasate had a point too, as Jonathan Viera clearly threw himself in spectacular fashion with little or no contact from the keeper Claudio Bravo. Viera picked himself up and sent Bravo the wrong way to win the game as it finished 1-0. The result, but more surprisingly the clean sheet, was a real positive for under-fire boss Paco Jémez, who was delighted with the outcome. He claimed the win gave him and his side “peace of mind” after his side had conceded 21 goals in their seven previous league matches.
Gary Lineker, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Laurie Cunningham are just some of the English players to have graced La Liga in the past, and Luton-born Charlie I’Anson can now join that list. I’Anson, a former Grimsby youngster, made his La Liga debut for Elche in their 2-1 win against Espanyol. The 20-year-old was playing Conference football two years ago but chose to return to the country where he was raised and joined Elche’s B team last summer. Having made the bench for the loss to Rayo Vallecano on the opening day, I’Anson completed 90 minutes on Saturday as two Coro goals won the game. Surely it won’t be too long before the invasion of knock-off Elche shirts with I’Anson’s name across the back begin to flood onto British high streets?
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