La Liga wrap: Atletico come unstuck at Valencia as Barcelona move clear
La Liga wrap: Atletico Madrid's impressive unbeaten start to the season ended at Valencia on Saturday. Tom Wellman reports
Atletico come unstuck as unbeaten record ends
Valencia were unbeaten at home this season despite their awkward start and that statistic continued as in-form Atletico Madrid came to visit, although few expected the visitors to lose their first game of the season. A stunning volley from Roberto Soldado and a last minute Nelson Valdez goal claimed an important win for Valencia which pushes them up to ninth and relieves some of the pressure on Mauricio Pellegrino’s shoulders. As for Atletico, they stay in second but will have to bounce back and begin another run of form which saw them sit level on points with Barcelona after nine games, especially as in December, Atletico face both Barcelona and Real Madrid in quick succession.
Easy Barça win puts distance between themselves and Atletico
After watching closest rivals Atletico fall to defeat in Valencia, Barcelona seized their chance to create a lead at the top of the La Liga table with a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo. Adriano scored the opener on 20 minutes, but moments later, Mario Bermejo equalised after a swift counter attack. David Villa struck back almost instantly following great work from Andres Iniesta and an offside goal from Jordi Alba rounded off a routine evening for Barcelona. Lionel Messi wore boots with his new born son’s name stitched into them but couldn’t find the target. Worryingly, the tiny Argentine suffered an injury scare as he overextended his knee late on and faces a race to be fit to play against Celtic in midweek.
Essien and Modric score as Real breeze past Zaragoza
After scoring five against Mallorca, Real Madrid have shown signs that they could be returning to the sort of form that saw them crowned champions last season. They continued their bid to return to the top of the league by pummeling Real Zaragoza 4-0 at the Bernabeu on Saturday as Michael Essien and Luka Modrić scored their maiden goals for the club. Gonzalo Higuaín struck the first after 20 minutes and Ángel di María eventually scored the second at the third time of asking before Essian and Modrić wrapped up the victory. Madrid’s dominant form since the Barcelona draw has pushed them up to third, giving the squad a boost ahead of a tough game against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
Espanyol turn a corner after fourth league game unbeaten
Summer signing Diego Colotto scored the winner on Sunday in a 1-0 win for Espanyol over Real Sociedad. Despite defeat to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey in midweek, Espanyol have continued their recent improvement of late in the league, having taken eight of their nine league points in the previous four games. The win wasn’t enough to lift the club from the relegation zone due to wins for Deportivo and Rayo Vallecano but the victory extends their recent good form and gives them their first away win of the season. Presidential uncertainty rumbles on ahead of elections later in the month but the team appear to pleasing the fans at long last.
Malaga suffer shock Vallecano defeat
Malaga have been almost unbeatable at La Rosaleda this season, having won against teams such as AC Milan, Zenit and Panathinaikos, so it was a surprise to see lowly Vallecano pick up three points there on Saturday. Even more shocking was that Vallecano had lost their previous three away games! Nevertheless, Piti opened the scoring for the visitors before Martin Demichelis headed home Joaquín’s free-kick after half-time. Piti was involved yet again to set up Leonardo on the hour mark to score the winner. Malaga had only conceded three goals at home prior to this game as their unbeaten home record comes to an end.