Atletico kept up their winning momentum going into game week 34 in Friday night’s early kick-off, by brushing aside Elche 2-0 on home ground.
All the action came in the second half. Raul Garcia was brought down by Sapunaru shortly after play resumed, and David Villa stepped up to take the resulting penalty. However is penalty was matched by Elche keeper Herrera, and the game stayed goalless.
Atletico broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute though, when Miranda headed the hosts in front. And moving into second half injury time, Sapunaru, already proving a liability, conceded another penalty and received his marching orders in the process. Instead of Villa, it would be Costa this time who stepped up and duly converted the spot kick to earn Altetico the three points. Their win would put pressure on chasing Barcelona going into their Sunday game, and Copa Del Rey champions Real Madrid, who do not play this week.
Saturday’s action turned attention to the bottom half of the table, with Osasuna and Getafe needing to pick up valuable points. An early goal for Osasuna through Riera Magem was cruelly cancelled out in the last 10 minutes from Goncalves Oliveira, however the point gained could prove a crucial one. It pushes Osasuna onto 35 points and 3 above danger, which could prove a helpful advantage. But they will know there is work still to be done.
A point earned away at Levante by Getafe will not been as helpful however. A goalless draw sees them sitting 18th on 32 points, which is a precarious position to be placed with just four games remaining. Only Valladolid halt them from progressing further up the table on a head to head record. They have a game in hand, a dreading midweek tie away to free scoring Real Madrid on 7th May.
Returning focus to the top half of the table, Real Sociedad left it late to escape from the grasp of Espanol with all three points. After going behind, Canales replied just 9 minutes after Cordoba’s opener to see the teams go in level at the break. It would seem as though a draw was on the cards, until ex-Arsenal striker Carlos Vela popped up with the winner in stoppage time. The win put pressure on Sevilla in 5th place to get a result at home against Granada on Sunday night, as Socieded close the gap to two points.
Onto Sunday’s action then. Almeria hosted Celta Vigo in what would turn out to be a high scoring encounter. Unfortunately for Almeria though, they fell the wrong side of the scoreline, and didn’t make up any ground on the teams above them. After going in level at 1-1 at the break, Duran, Oliveira and Orellana had the game wrapped up for Celta Vigo with 15 minutes to go. Gonzalez did grab a late goal back for Almeria, but it didn’t spark a miracle comeback and Celta Vigo are all but mathematically out of the relegation scrap now, sitting comfortably in 11th on 40 points.
Rayo responded perfectly to teams around them picking up points to go level with Celta Vigo on 40 points. For a team who have had an impressive second half of the season after such a dreadful start, comfortably saw off bottom club Real Betis who realistically, are all but confirmed to be relegated by the end of the season.
Sevilla also responded appropriately to Real Sociedad picking up points, and extended the points gap back to five points as they chase a Europa League place next season. Granada offered little in resilience as Sevilla strolled to a 4-0 win.
Barcelona responded in a positive way after a tough week of results, by overcoming Athletico Bilbao 2-1 at the Camp Nou. Although, they got off to a bad start.
After going in at the interval goalless, Athletic were the team to draw first blood through Aduriz just 5 minutes after the restart. The pressure was on for Barca to reply, and once one goal went in, another soon followed. Pedro finally got things rolling on 72 minutes and the ever dependable Lionel Messi followed up just two minutes later to turn the game around and take home the three points.
Friday 18th April
Atlético Madrid 2 Elche 0
(Miranda 72, Costa pen.90+1, Sapunaru so.90)
Saturday 19th April
Osasuna 1 Valencia 1
(Riera Magem 19, Goncalves Oliveira 82)
Levante 0 Getafe CF 0
(Ruano Delgado so.81)
Real Sociedad 2 Espanyol 1
(Canales 32, Vela 90+1, Cordoba 23)
Sunday 20th April
Almería 2 Celta Vigo 4
(Rios Lozano 40, Diaz Gonzalez 88, Agudo Duran 19, 71, Dias de Oliveira 52, Orellana 75
Rayo 3 Real Betis 1
(Rochina 14, Paulao og.27, Larrivey 51, Chica Torres 79)
Sevilla 4 Granada 0
(Mainz og.14, Gameiro 51, M’Bia 58, Machin Perez 68)
Barcelona 2 Athletic 1
(Pedro 72, Messi 74, Aduriz 50)
Monday 21st April
Málaga vs Villarreal (21:00)
Image sourced from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2608036/Atletico-Madrid-2-0-Elche-Miranda-rises-high-send-La-Liga-leaders-six-points-clear.html