La Liga wrap: Real Madrid strike late to beat Valencia
La Liga wrap: Real Madrid striker Jese scored a late goal to rescue three points against Valencia. Tom Wellman reports
Jese seals late Real win after more defensive problems
Real Madrid were again reliant on a late goal to save their slim title hopes, as young striker Jese came from the bench to snatch a late winner against Valencia. The goal came in the 82nd minute after Valencia, who expected to announce their new manager this week, pegged Real back twice at the Mestalla, raising more questions about Madrid’s dodgy defence. They have let in four goals in their past two away games and with Pablo Piatti and Jeremy Mathieu both scoring with headers which will certainly annoy Carlo Ancelotti. However the Italian was able to rely on Angel Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese to outscore Valencia and remain just five points adrift of Barcelona prior to the winter break. The time off should also give Xabi Alonso time to recover after he suffered a perforated eardrum on Sunday.
Getafe powerless to prevent Pedro hat-trick
Pedro scored a nine-minute hat-trick to overturn Getafe’s early two-goal lead and hand Barcelona a comfortable 5-2 win. Hosts Getafe set up a potential shock early on in the match after Sergio Escudero and Lisandro Lopez gave them a 2-0 lead within 15 minutes, but Barҫa woke up and hit back thanks to clinical finishing from Pedro. His treble was a mixture of the sublime and the comical, with his first a delightful chip over the keeper, before a defensive error gifted him a shooting opportunity for this third minutes later. Cesc Fabregas wrapped up the win with a goal and a penalty in the second half, as they ensured Barҫa will enter the New Year in top sport, albeit closely followed by Atletico Madrid, who they face on 12 January at the Vicente Calderon.
Costa ends year in Pichichi pole
The main reason for Atletico’s title efforts this season has been down to the form of Diego Costa, and another two from the man leading the Pichichi scoring charts helped his side to another win. His late penalty was the difference between Atleti and Levante as the game threatened to end in a draw. The game finished 3-2 to Madrid and ensured they go into the winter break level on points with Barcelona, a testament to the incredible job done by Diego Simeone. Few would have predicted that Atletico would have led both the league and goal-scoring tables at the end of 2013 but Costa and Simeone have proved plenty wrong in their impressive campaign so far.
Valladolid reliant on Guerra form
If Valladolid are to have any chance of staying in La Liga this season, they need to hope that the form of Javi Guerra continues. Valladolid have scored just 21 times this season but Guerra has 11 of those which sees him take an unexpected place amongst the top three in the race for the Pichichi after scoring just eight times in the whole of last season. Although Valladolid lost out to Espanyol at the weekend, Guerra’s hat-trick against Rayo Vallecano ensured his side remained out of the bottom three for the winter break, but only just. Conceding goals has been Valladolid’s problem this season but with an in-form striker at their disposal, survival is certainly achievable.