Same old, same old in La Liga as Barcelona stumble against dogged Deportivo, Sergio Ramos saves Real Madrid and Valencia sink to new depths
Real Madrid relies on Ramos and a bad ref call
Real Madrid’s match-up against Betis game took an unexpected turn early on, with the visitors pulling ahead 0-1 after an astonishing blooper by goalie Keylor Navas, who unwittingly dragged the ball inside his own goal in a circus-like move that left the whole Bernabeu stadium speechless. Such a huge mistake came seconds after the Costa Rican keeper had tackled Darko Brasanac full-frontal in a play that should have gotten him sent off. The ref, however, didn’t make the call.
After the usual reaction stemming from pride and not football, Sergio Ramos (who else?) flew over the box late in the game for yet another mighty header that handed Real Madrid the three points, the top spot in the standings and a points safety margin in relation to its immediate pursuers.
FC Barcelona is a shadow of the team that delighted the world
One could argue that such a tremendous feat would leave any team with a severe hangover. But after shocking everyone last Wednesday with the impossible comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, Barça once again crashed and burned in their visit to Deportivo de la Coruña’s turf on Sunday (2-1). A shadow of its former self, Luis Enrique’s side disappointed severely and handed the first place to Real Madrid on a silver platter.
A motivated and organized Deportivo is already showing strong signs of improvement under Pepe Mel’s management, and they tactically went toe-to-toe against a huge team that never was capable of beating them into submission. The home team’s first half opener was leveled by Luis Suarez early in the second half, but first German Lux had a couple great saves and then Alex Bergantiños with his header knocked Barça out for good. A shocking upset that might become a key result in La Liga’s outcome.
Leganes resists Sevilla’s onrush
A top-tier team playing home against one that is struggling in the bottom of the standings? Easy win, right? Leganes proved for one more week that La Liga hides plenty of surprises within its match-ups, extracting a precious point from their visit to title contenders Sevilla FC.
Gabriel Pires’ early strike surprised Jorge Sampaoli’s side, although the Andalusians managed to level the game late in the first half thanks to Stevan Jovetic, who keeps making an impact since his arrival in January. Theoretically, the second-half should have shown us the mighty Sevilla from earlier games, but their gas tank emptied quicker than expected while Leganes fought tooth-and-nail to stand their ground. A well-deserved draw, indeed, and a huge drawback for the Pizjuán crowd.
Friday funday thanks to Espanyol and Las Palmas
Football provides some very much-needed escapism for fans everywhere. Just in case you may need a reminder, try to space out and rewatch last Friday’s game without picking sides. It’s sheer and utter joy. In a seven-goal boxing match, Espanyol got the upper hand thanks to its effectiveness in key moments.
David López opened the goal count with a magnificent header in the first minute, but Lemos equalized once the half-hour mark was reached with a devious strike that surprised veteran Diego Lopez with a weird bounce. Pablo Piatti, though, wouldn’t let the game slip into half-time with a draw: his great dribbling on the wing let him assist Gerard Moreno, who scored the 2-1 in injury time.
A riotous second-half gifted us with a half-turn header by Lemos for an early equalizer, Piatti scoring his ninth goal this season from the penalty spot, Jose Manuel Jurado pulling his team further away with the 4-2 and Mateo García narrowing the gap with five minutes to go. At the end of the day, though, Quique Sanchez Flores’ men were able to secure the win.
Valencia CF just won’t stop disappointing its fans
Valencia lives hectic days right now, with Las Fallas celebrations overtaking the city and plunging its inhabitants into an exciting frenzy of powder, fire, noise and explosions. However, the only excitement that Valencia CF fans seem to enjoy nowadays is the prospect of the season ending as soon as possible, as their team is keen on performing terribly even against weak sides like Sporting de Gijón.
Lacking any glimpse of ambition in their attitude, the local players wandered around the pitch throughout the first half while the Asturian men focused on defending their box and keeping the game in a comfortable place. Then, in the second-half and after keeper Pichu Cuellar denied Dani Parejo with a magnificent save to his penalty attempt, Duje Cop took advantage of a rebound to put it in the back of the net.
With the Mestalla stands roaring with outrage and eighty minutes into the game, Valencia decided to start playing something vaguely resembling football and, with ten minutes left, seized the draw with a lucky Munir El Haddadi header. However, the late reaction was not enough to bounce back and the players left the pitch while the fans deservedly booed them and “Peter Lim go home!” chants emerged from the crowd.