Barça’s win over Osasuna stretched their lead at the top to 11 points, as Atletico went down to defeat in Bilbao, whilst Real Madrid warmed up for Wednesday with a 4-0 win over Getafe.
All four teams at the bottom lost, as did Betis, who drop to fifth place behind Malaga, with Valencia closing in on the last Champions League spot.
Atletico have no answer in San Mames
Atletico Madrid suffered a 3-0 defeat at San Mames on Sunday night, when Bielsa’s team got probably their best result of the season so far and at least some revenge for last year’s defeat in the Europa League Final. San José Susaeta and De Marcos were on target for the Basques and Simeone’s side - without Falcao again and with a number of players rested ahead of this week’s Cup semi-final, had no answer as they crashed to their fourth defeat of the season. Atletico face Seville in the Cup and the Andalucians are already beginning to benefit from the “Emery effect”, with their new boss maintaining his unbeaten run since he’s been in charge, a 3-0 win over Granada that lifts Seville up to 11th ahead of a tough February that sees visits to both the Bernabeu and Camp Nou.
Ronaldo hat trick helps Real Madrid close the gap
Real Madrid closed the gap on Atletico to just three points with a 4-0 win over Getafe. Although Madrid’s opener was a bit harsh on the visitors, with keeper Moya getting knocked about by Carvalho in the corner that led to Ramos’ goal, there could be no complaints about Cristiano Ronaldo’s whirlwind hat trick in the second half, which took him to 21 for the season (12 behind Messi’s 33). Madrid also opened up the gap between them and the fourth place team, with Betis going down 3-0 at Rayo and Malaga, 2-3 winners at Mallorca climbing back above them.
Rayo looking for European spot
Betis have failed to win in all their last four games, including the Cup quarter final against Atletico Madrid, and they had no answer to Rayo at Vallecas, as Paco Jemez’s side win moved them to within a point of Betis and Malaga, who bounced back from their Cup defeat to Barça with a 2-3 win at Mallorca. Saviola Isco and Monreal were on target for Pellegrini’s side, who played out the last 20 minutes with 10 men after Demishelis was shown a straight red. The defeat leaves Mallorca in deep trouble, second from bottom and with just one win since September and under threat boss Joaquin Caparros admitted: “I’m strong, but we all know the way football is -we live by results”.
Bottom four all lose
Osasuna’s defeat at the Camp Nou was perhaps softened for them by the performances of the other teams involved in the relegation dog fight. As well as Mallorca (17 points) and Granada(20), Deportivo also went down, losing 2-3 to a late Ricardo Costa winner despite a first half brace from Riki after Jonas had put Valencia ahead in the first minute. The three points move Valencia up to seventh, just two points off the fourth place ahead of next weekend’s game against Barça, whilst Deportivo stay bottom with 16 points. Celta and Espanyol (20 and 22 points respectively) kept themselves just clear of trouble with draws against Real Sociedad(1-1) and Zaragoza(0-0).
In the weekend’s other game, Levante were back at home after two straight defeats on the road, to Betis and Atletico Madrid, and they were also back to winning ways, with a last gasp own goal by Rukavina giving them a 2-1 win against Valladolid – their 22nd point of the season at the Ciutat de Valencia, a La Liga home record only bettered by Barça, Atletico and Real Madrid.