La Liga round-up: Unbeaten Valencia continue to impress
Valencia stunned Sporting de Gijon with two early goals at the Molinon on Saturday night from Mehmet Topal and Roberto Soldado.
Unai Emery was show-casing his squad depth as he made several changes ahead of the key Champions League clash with Manchester United this week and Los Che had enough in reserve to stifle the listless hosts and hold on for a 0-2 win. The other results on Saturday guaranteed that Valencia would sit top of the table come the end of the weekend.
The most significant being Real Madrid‘s dour 0-0 draw with Levante at the Ciutat de Valencia. Jose Mourinho’s team created countless chances but they could not score in the face of a proud defensive performance from Luis Garcia Plaza’s men. Real have the worst goal/chance ratio in the Primera Division by a considerable margin.
Barcelona were giving a helping hand by Mateu Lahoz in a rain-soaked encounter with Athletic Bilbao at San Mames. The referee harshly sent off Fernando Amorebieta in the first half for a sliding tackle and Barca went on to win the tie by a comfortable 1-3 margin thanks to goals from midfield trio Seydou Keita, Xavi Hernandez and Sergi Busquets. There was a slight scare at the end for Pep Guardiola as David Villa was sent off for violent conduct and Igor Gabilondo pulled one back for Athletic but the Basque comeback was destined for failure.
Fast forward to Sunday and Real Mallorca‘s home credentials continue to impress as Fernando Cavenaghi’s brace gave Michael Laudrup’s side a 2-0 win over a limp Real Sociedad team who folded all too easily at the Ono Estadi.
Another strong home team, Espanyol, beat Osasuna 1-0 at the Cornella El Prat thanks to a debut goal from Alvaro Vazquez. The 19-year-old striker was playing despite Pablo Osvaldo passing a late fitness test and once again Mauricio Pochettino’s gamble on young academy graduates paid off. Jose Antonio Camacho’s cause was not helped by a red card to Lolo with less than twenty minutes on the clock.
Deportivo La Coruna and Almeria came together in a clash between the two most disappointing La Liga teams of the season so far. Kala Uche marked his first start of the season with two goals to give the Andalusians a 0-2 win away at the Riazor. Diego Colotto made life difficult for his team mates by getting sent off just before half time with Depor two-nil down. Miguel Angel Lotina is really feeling the pressure with his side stuck in the relegation zone without a win to their name so far in 2010-11.
Getafe went some way to making up for their poor home defeat to Malaga last week with a 0-1 victory over Racing Santander at the Sardinero. Michel made several successful changes including the deployment of Victor Sanchez in midfield and the former Barcelona reserve scored the only goal of the game. Racing, who had Markus Rosenberg dismissed for two bookable offences late on, reverted to the norm by failing to assert themselves at home.
The headline of the weekend was the sacking of Sevilla manager Antonio Alvarez in the immediate aftermath of his side’s 2-0 defeat to Hercules at the Jose Rico Perez. David Trezeguet is undergoing a renaissance on the Costa Blanca and he had the dubious honour of hammering the final nail into Alvarez’s coffin by scoring both goals to the delight of the giddy home support.
Atletico Madrid managed to hold on to a 1-0 lead over Real Zaragoza at the Vicente Calderon despite the petulant second half dismissal of Jose Antonio Reyes. Diego Costa grabbed the goal that keeps Atletico within three points of leaders Valencia and sentenced Jose Aurelio Gay’s team to another week at the very bottom of the league table.
Monday night’s fixture between Malaga and Villarreal promised goals and we were not disappointed in the first half at the Rosaleda. Jesualdo Ferreira’s team went ahead through Eliseu, then conceded two to Santi Cazorla and Giuseppe Rossi before levelling through Jose Rondon all with less than half an hour played. Eliseu’s first half dismissal, however, prejudiced the game in Villarreal’s favour and in-form Spanish international Santi Cazorla struck again before half time to make it 2-3, which is how the scoreline remained after ninety minutes.