Real Madrid profited from nightmare weekends for Barcelona and Athletico Madrid, to pull ahead in the La Liga title race. The misery continued for bottom trio Betis, Rayo and Valladolid, whilst the upper and lower mid-table teams tightened up the gaps.
Madrid comfortably strolled to victory at the Bernabeu, with Asier Illarramendi finding the net in serendipitous fashion, with his shot deflecting in off Manu del Moral after 34 minutes.
Madrid, who were without suspended Ronaldo, took until the 71st minute to stretch their lead to two goals, and the spectacular finish that followed was worth the wait. Gareth Bale’s ambitious 30-yard drive crashed in off the bar, taking his season tally up to 12 goals.
Isco made the game safe 10 minutes later, to put the icing on the cake on a weekend that swung the title race into Madrid’s favour.
Barcelona, who were knocked off top spot, slumped to a 3-1 away defeat to an impressive Real Sociedad side.
Things began to go wrong for Barca just after the half hour mark, when Alex Song put through his own net.
Lionel Messi was quick to atone for Song’s mistake just 4 minutes later, but despite going in level at the break, things would get worse in the second half.
Ex-Arsenal striker Carlos Vela latched onto a loose ball to set up team mate Griezmann to regain the lead in the 54th minute, and 5 minutes later the home fans were sent into dreamland when Zurutuza converted past an onrushing Victor Valdes for 3-1. And that’s how it would stay, with the 3 points thoroughly deserved and keeps the pressure on 4th placed Athletic Bilbao.
Perhaps even more of a shock, was Athletico Madrid’s away day misery to bottom half side Osasuna.
It took relegation threatened Osasuna only 6 minutes to find a way past on-loan Athletico keeper Courtois, when Alvaro Cejudo wriggled free of the defensive marking from a cross to volley the hosts in front.
And the afternoon got better for them, as Emiliano Armenteros (whose cross set up Cejudo for the opener) shot home on 20 minutes from 20 yards.
They made the game safe from a poor Athletico side just before half time on the 42nd minute, when Roberto Torres tucked home another cross. It was a missed opportunity for Athletico given the weekend’s results, but a valuable win for Osasuna jumps them up to 12th on 29 points, and further away from the dreaded drop zone.
Friday 21st February
Valladolid 1 Levante 1
(Javi Guerra 52, Victor Casadesus 25)
Saturday 22nd February
Real Madrid 3 Elche 0
(Illarramendi 34, Bale 71, Isco 81)
Celta Vigo 1 Getafe CF 1
(Alcantara do Nascimento 59, Lafita 20, Lopez so.52)
Real Sociedad 3 Barcelona 1
(Song og.32, Griezmann 54, Zurutuza 59)
Almería 0 Málaga 0
Sunday 23rd February
Rayo 0 Sevilla 1
(Andujar Moreno 57, Iborra so.83)
Real Betis 0 Athletic 2
(Perquis so.41, Reyes so.58, Muniain pen.34, Fernandez Hierro 81)
Valencia 2 Granada 1
(Alcacer Garcia 64, Vezo 90+1, Medina Luna 47)
Osasuna 3 Atlético Madrid 0
(Cejudo 6, Armenturos 21, Torres 42)
Monday 24th February
Espanyol 1 Villarreal 2
(Cordoba 77, Gomez Bardonado 36, Perbet 50)