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La Liga round-up: 100 in charge for Jose as Messi hits 50

This week's action marked significant milestones for two of La Liga's biggest stars. Jose Mourinho celebrated his 100th game as Real Madrid boss by taking his side to Real Betis.

Never one to stay out of the headlines too long, Lionel Messi picked up exactly where he left off in midweek and grabbed his 50th goal of the season. Total Football's Marcus Banks recaps all the weekend's game as things start to hot up at both ends of the table in Spain. 

Real Betis 2-3 Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to victory with a second half double to wrap up the points for Los Blancos. Madrid displayed champion credentials after they recorded a hard fought 3-2 win away to Real Betis to keep the gap between themselves and Barcelona at 10 points.

Betis made a bright start and scored the opening goal on 10 minutes after Jorge Molina expertly smashed home past Iker Casillas following a good pass from Ruben Castro. Despite taking the lead, Betis looked shaky at the back and were punished as Mesut Ozil’s lofted pass found Gonzalo Higuian who slammed in from 15 yards scoring his 20th of the season.

Salva Sevilla’s free-kick was exquisitely tipped onto the crossbar by Iker Casillas as Betis started the second half well. Though they fell behind when Kaka found Marcelo whose volleyed cross found Cristiano Ronaldo to instinctively finish. However, Madrid were pegged back just three minutes later, after Sevilla’s corner rebounded off Alvaro Arbeloa’s chest straight to Jefferson Montero who fired past Casillas.

After all their hard work, Betis were beaten. Kaka swung in a corner which met Sergio Ramos’ head but Fabricio could only clear as far as Ronaldo to score in an empty net.

Barcelona 2-0 Racing Santander

Lionel Messi stole the show once again bagging a brace in a comfortable victory for Barcelona. Pedro nearly gave Barca the perfect start after beating a host of defenders before dragging his effort wide with Mario Fernandez beaten.

Andres Iniesta came close to opening the scoring with an audacious chip from 12 yards that bounced off the crossbar. Barcelona eventually took the lead through their star man as Messi slotted home from close range after Cesc Fabregas’ cross.

Pep Guardiola’s men were looking increasingly dangerous and made the pressure count as Messi took his goal tally to 50 after converting a penalty following Fabregas being hauled to the ground.

Minutes later, young Isaac Cuenca bamboozled his way through the Santander defence before blasting his shot at the post. Racing thought they had pulled one back when Adrian Gonzalez hammered one home before the linesman judged the substitute was offside.

The win keeps Real Madrid in sight for Barcelona though Mourinho’s men have a 10-point margin and with 12 games remaining, the Blaugrana need to turn on the style. 

Racing Santander sit in the relegation zone, six points ahead of bottom placed Zaragoza.

Valencia 2-2 Mallorca

Valencia had to settle for a point after second-half strikes from Mallorca leaving Malaga back in the race for third place. Valencia took the lead but some poor defending left Unai Emery’s men rueing missed chances in similar fashion to their Europa League game against PSV.

Los Che started well with Mallorca struggling to gain a foothold. Costa found Roberto Soldado but his effort was well saved by Dudu Aouate.Tino Costa eventually gave his side the lead after his deflected effort looped over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. A poor back-pass from Jose Nunes left Aouate to try to clear from the approaching Soldado, before Aritz Aduriz stole the ball to score from 12 yards.

Mallorca found a way back into the game in the second half when Emilio Nsue raced clear of Valencia’s defence after a perfect through pass from Michael Pereira to beat Vicente Guaita.

Joaquin Caparros’ men smelt blood and drew equal just eight minutes later after Victor poked home Nsue's cross to level proceedings. Costa received his marching orders six minutes from time after a tough challenge on Alejandro Alfaro. Valencia now face PSV in Europe while Mallorca face Atletico Madrid.

Osasuna 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

Osasuna grabbed a narrow victory to leapfrog the visitors into sixth position in La Liga. The home side started brilliantly and were rewarded just 10 minutes in. A free-kick was delivered into the Bilbao area and Iturraspe converted into his own net unchallenged.

Bilbao were failing to replicate the performance against Manchester United but were unlucky after Oscar De Marcos struck the post in the first half.

They had their chances but couldn’t convert and were punished when Osasuna pumped another hopeful free kick and it was emphatically headed home by Raul Garcia. Athletic rung changes and introduced Fernando Llorente and Ander Herrera and both were involved in Bilbao’s first goal.

Herrera played in the tall figure of Llorente who blasted an effort which cannoned of the crossbar and past Fernandez in the Osasuna goal. The match was hotly contested and Bilbao had the chance to nick a point at the end but Iker Muniain couldn’t beat Fernandez before Osasuna took it down the other end. Unfortunately, Raoul Cedric Loe didn’t find the net either.

The result was a big push for Osasuna in their hopes of European qualification while the Basque side will be disappointed they could not push further up the table.

Malaga 1-0 Levante

Malaga pounced on Valencia dropping points with a sole Jose Rondon goal being enough to take all three points. Malaga started well and Jeremy Toulalan bossed the midfield. Levante couldn’t get a touch of the ball as Toulalan shielded the back four effectively while also contributing to the team's attack.

Levante sat back most of the first half and Kone was isolated up-front as his side looked to score from long balls and set pieces. Del Horno kept Levante in the game following a goal line clearance after a Rondon header before half-time.

Malaga eventually took the lead early in the second half after Joaquin’s free-kick was headed into the top corner by Rondon. Levante nearly scraped a draw when the ball dropped to El Zhar late in the second period but he blasted his volley over the bar.

Malaga’s result was well-deserved as they close the gap on third place.

Real Sociedad 3-0 Zaragoza

Real Sociedad move nine points clear of the relegation zone and can even start pushing for a European place following a good win. David Zurutuza’s cross was parried by Zaragoza goalkeeper Roberto and Imanol Agirretxe volleyed into an empty net. Sociedad made it two just three minutes later as loan striker Carlos Vela collected Lanzaro’s poor clearance to score.

The game was wrapped up before the break after Agirretxe grabbed his second tapping in Alberto de la Bella’s cross at the back post five minutes before half-time.

Sociedad now sit seven points away from fourth place and a massive push from the Basque side could see them move up the table to where a host of clubs sit.

Another poor result for Zaragoza sees them stay at the bottom of the table.

Sporting Gijon 1-0 Sevilla

Sporting Gijon claimed a vital three points in their fight against relegation with a 1-0 victory of Sevilla at the Estadio Municipal El Molinon. Sevilla missed a host of chances, with David Barral and Adrian Colunga both wasted opportunities in the first 20 minutes.

Diego Perotti should have done better with his header which was put wide. Another Perotti header nearly made amends but it struck the post.

However, it was the underdogs who pulled ahead in the 32nd minute thanks to Andre Castro’s strike. Sevilla’s poor finishing continued as both Jesus Navas and Ivan Rakitic both failed to convert while Formose Mendy had a chance for the home side.

Gijon survived waves of pressure from the visitors towards the end of the game but they were able to hold on and secure all three points.

Espanyol 5-1 Rayo Vallecano

Espanyol secured a fine display after netting five against Rayo Vallecano moving them to 9th in the table. Kalu Uche bagged a hat-trick as Espanyol got their first win in six.

The Nigerian striker opened the scoring after four minutes as Uche headed in Espanyol’s first. On-loan midfielder Philippe Coutinho scored their second with a tap-in as Espanyol netted two in just 10 minutes.

Coutinho grabbed his brace after slaloming through two defenders before beating Vazquez in the Vallecano goal after 23 minutes. Espanyol made it 4-0 on the stroke of half-time as Uche scored his second after guiding a superb chip shot from the edge of the area. Former striker Raul Tamudo pulled one back for Vallecano in the 54th minute before Ikechukwu Uche completed his hat-trick and sealed the win for Espanyol.

The win keeps Espanyol with their sights set on a European place while Rayo Vallecano are behind them in 10th.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Granada

Atletico Madrid moved within inches of Valencia and Malaga following a hard fought win against Granada. Granada had a decent penalty shout turned down when it appeared that Uche was bundled down by Miranda but the referee waved away claims.

However it was Miranda who opened the scoring when he volleyed in Diego Godin’s header in the 39th minute. The game was played with a relatively slow pace and Granada were reduced to 10 men when Henrique was dismissed in the 83rd minute.

Powerful striker Radamel Falcao made sure of all three points after he squeezed his shot under Julio Cesar after some brilliant work from Juanfran. Falcao was unlucky not to add a second but his shot rebounded off the post.

But it didn’t matter much as Madrid were back to winning ways and keeping pace with the top five.Granada sit four points above the drop zone and now face a tricky relegation tie with Sporting Gijon.

Villareal 1-2 Getafe

Getafe gained three crucial points in the La Liga relegation fight by defeating Villareal 2-1 on Monday.

Unselfish play from Nicholas Fedor allowed Diego Castro to finish neatly giving Getafe the lead, before Villareal’s Borja Valero fired a penalty straight at Moya.

The Yellow Submarine did get another chance from the spot however, this time Brazilian Nilmar made no mistake to draw level at the break.

But it was Getafe who emerged victorious as Barrada converted a Pedro Leon to poke to lift his side up to 13th, eight points above the relegation zone, whilst Villareal sit a little more precariously just one place above the drop.

By Marcus Banks


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