La Liga wrap: 10-man Real Madrid deny Osasuna big-name scalp
La Liga wrap: Real Madrid strike late to deny Osasuna a rare win as Barcelona beat Villarreal, writes Tom Wellman
El Sadar a graveyard for top teams as Real snatch a point
Having already held Barcelona at El Sadar, Osasuna could count themselves unlucky to not have claimed all three points when Real Madrid visited Pamplona. Madrid have found it tough to win at Osasuna in recent years, losing more points in the title race last season when succumbing to a goalless draw – and Los Blancos have failed to shake off the hoodoo. Osasuna raced into an early two-goal lead thanks to former Barcelona graduate Oriol Riera but were pegged back just before half-time thanks to Isco’s strike. Osasuna led for the majority of the match, and with Real down to 10 men thanks to another red card for Sergio Ramos, Pepe equalised with ten minutes remaining to steal a point for Madrid. The draw put an end to five consecutive league wins for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. That said however, the floodgates should crash open when Real host Olimpic Xativa in the Copa del Rey this week.
Neymar continues to score and keep Barca top
Barcelona’s brilliant Brazilian Neymar followed up his hat-trick against Celtic on Wednesday night with another two to steer the Catalans to victory over Villarreal. The game was a real banana skin for Barca as Villarreal have been playing well and have taken points from both Atletico and Madrid this season, so it was no surprise when Mateo Musacchio nodded the Yellow Submarine level. Barca had failed to create many clear chances throughout the first half but with an in-form Neymar, Barcelona hit back after a brilliant run from Alexis Sánchez teed up the striker for his fifth goal in a week. Neymar also received a fifth yellow card for time wasting which rules him out of the Getafe game on Sunday, leaving Barca with just Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Sánchez as central striking options.
Djukic departs after Atletico ease to victory
Valencia have sacked yet another managed as Miroslav Djukic leaves the club after just six months in charge. Djukic, a former Valencia defender, only joined in the summer and was under huge pressure after the defeat by Swansea in the Europa League but the ruthless board lost patience with the Serb after a 3-0 loss to Atletico Madrid. Los Che are now searching for another new manager but are unlikely to keep one unless immediate success follows. Valencia are 10 points adrift of Atheltic Bilbao in fourth, ironically managed by former boss Ernesto Valverde, and have suffered due to the short-term approach the club owners continue to take. No doubt it won’t be long before another coach is given the axe at the Mestalla.
Sociedad hammer Betis on Garrido’s league debut
Juan Carlos Garrido could not have begun his tenure at Betis in worse fashion as Sociedad turned on the style in the second half to thrash them 5-1. Imanol Agirretxe gave Sociedad an early lead before Jorge Molina pulled La Liga’s bottom club level. There were positives to take from the first half for Garrido who, unlike Jagoba Arrasate at Sociedad, will continue to manage in European competition after the winter break. But after a torrid 45 minutes in which Sociedad smashed home four goals, it became clear that only Arrasate is likely to be managing in Europe next season as his side stay in sixth place. After the agonising Champions League exit for Sociedad, Arrasate will be under pressure to keep them in the top six until the end of the season. On the other hand, Garrido is already under pressure both in the league and in Europe as Betis face a struggle to stay in La Liga.