Real Madrid have invited Barcelona back into the title race after a thrilling 7 goal El Classico at the Santiago Bernabeu finished in the visitors’ favour. In a game that had goals, three penalties, a red card and a Lionel Messi hat-trick, there is only 1 point that now separates Real Madrid from their Catalan rivals. And worse still, their Madrid rivals Atletico have stolen top spot from them at the same time.
On what was to be a nightmare weekend for Real, the visitors took an early lead after just 7 minutes from a superb shot from range through Iniesta.
To Real’s credit, they responded in the right way, and found themselves ahead after just 4 minutes separating a Benzema double, after Di Maria did the hard work to set him up on both the occasions.
But just before half time Lionel Messi intervened with a neat finish and his first of the night to send both teams in level at the break.
The first of three second half penalties saw Ronaldo pick himself up to dispatch his effort past Victor Valdes after some would argue that the initial foul committed by Dani Alves was outside the area.
But just 10 minutes later Real would begin to implode as Sergio Ramos saw red for bringing down Neymar inside the area with 25 minutes to go. It would be Messi who converted the spot kick past Lopez in the Madrid goal for 3-3.
And Barcelona would go on to make the man advantage count with just 6 minutes remaining, as some desperate Madrid defending saw Alonso and Carvajal bring down Iniesta, setting up an opportunity that was too good to waste for Messi to clinch his hat-trick, and bring Barcelona right back into the title race.
It must have been an anxious wait for Atletico Madrid, who earlier on that day travelled to rock bottom Real Betis. Atletico were expected to come away with the three points, and after Rodriguez was dismissed for Betis with just over half an hour remaining, Gabi and Diego Costa converted the crucial goals that would ultimately bring them level on points with Real Madrid and see them overtake their promotion rivals on a head to head system.
Relegation threatened Malaga’s result was perhaps the surprise result of the weekend, taking away 3 points from a 2-0 win away at comfortably (for now) mid table side Celta Vigo. Two goals from Camacho lifted Malaga up to 13th on 32 points, which as it stands, is a valuable 5 points ahead of Real Valladolid in 18th on 27 points.
The weekends results went in Malaga’s favour, with Valladolid drawing with Rayo Vallecano, a result that benefits neither team. Getafe, Osasuna and Elche were all stunted by opposition looking up the table, with the exception of these perhaps being Granada, who got the better of Elche to keep a necessary distance from the bottom of the table and maintain pace with the middle order of the pack.
Sevilla are showing good form late in the season to leap frog above Villarreal and Real Sociedad into a Europa League qualifying spot in 5th, with a 2-1 win away at Osasuna. Although, this advantage could only be temporary as tonight’s Monday night clash is a vital one at both ends of the table as Almeria host Sociedad. Almeria will be looking to make the most of home advantage to scramble out of the relegation zone, and put Valladolid back under pressure.
Friday, 21 March
Celta Vigo 0 Málaga 2
(Camacho 24, 32, Barbosa Valente so.65)
Saturday, 22 March
Granada 1 Elche 0
(Brahimi 63, Sapunaru so.71)
Espanyol 0 Levante 0
(Casadesus Castano so.88)
Valladolid 1 Rayo 1
(Rosa Vale Castro og.7, Bueno 45)
Athletic 1 Getafe CF 0
Sunday, 23 March
Osasuna 1 Sevilla 2
(Acuna 90+4, Samperio Bustara 27, Bacca pen.45+1)
Real Betis 0 Atlético Madrid 2
(Rodriguez so.55, Gabi 58, Diego Costa 64)
Valencia 2 Villarreal 1
(Fuego Martinez 35, 44, dos Santos 83
Real Madrid 3 Barcelona 4
(Benzema 20, 24, Ronaldo pen.55, Ramos so.63, Iniesta 7, Messi 42, pen.65, pen.84)
Monday, 24 March
Almería v Real Sociedad 21:00