Barca back in the old routine

  • Last Updated: January 26 2014, 23:07 GMT

A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division.

Gerard Pique: Opened the scoring for Barcelona
Gerard Pique: Opened the scoring for Barcelona

It was back to business as usual for Barcelona following a turbulent week that saw the shock resignation of president Sandro Rosell as they returned to the top of the Primera Division standings with a 3-0 win over Malaga.

Gerard Pique opened the scoring just before the break and then Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez notched twice in quick succession around the hour mark to complete the scoring.

It would have been an even bigger margin of victory for the reigning champions but they twice saw efforts came back off the post while Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero made a string of saves.

The result took Barca back to the top of the table on goal difference from Atletico Madrid, who has earlier won 4-2 at Rayo Vallecano.

Arda Turan scored twice in an eventful match.

David Villa pounced on a Rayo error to open the scoring after just eight minutes, and Turan doubled the lead after half an hour, soon after the home side's Jonathan Viera saw his penalty saved.

Viera somewhat compensated for his miss from the spot by reducing the deficit towards the end of the first half, but the hard work Rayo had done to get themselves back in the game was quickly undone by slack defending from a free-kick, which led to Turan's second goal and Atletico's third.

An own goal by Saul Niguez after 75 minutes made sure of the points for Diego Simeone's side, with Joaquin Larrivey scoring the second Rayo consolation.

Athletic Bilbao gave a clear demonstration of their Champions League credentials as they crushed local rivals Osasuna 5-1 with a powerful display.

Aritz Aduriz scored twice, taking the match away from the hosts with his side's second and third goals after Markel Susaeta's opener had been cancelled out by Emiliano Armenteros.

Osasuna were dealt another setback by the 76th-minute sending-off of Alejandro Arribas and Athletic took full advantage.

Substitutes Ibai and Enrique Sola struck late on as the visitors strengthened their hold on fourth place.

Almeria kick-started their season as they ended a run of four games without a win with a 1-0 victory over Getafe.

Jonathan Zongo's second-half header was all that separated the two sides as Miguel Moya pulled off many great saves to keep the scoreline respectable.

The win moves Francisco Rodriguez's side out of the danger zone while their opponents remain midtable following a disappointing run of just one win in their last seven league matches.

On Saturday, second-half goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema helped Real Madrid beat Granada 2-0 to move to the top of the table for the first time since May 2012 - albeit only briefly.

Newly crowned Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo opened the scoring for the hosts after 57 minutes and then played a part in Benzema's goal, which wrapped up the points 19 minutes later.

Levante pulled off an unlikely 3-2 victory over a dominant Sevilla in an enthralling game at the Sanchez Pizjuan, with both sides having a man sent off in injury time.

The visitors twice came from behind before taking the lead for the only time late in the game, and owe a lot to goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who produced one of the outstanding goalkeeping performances of this season to keep his side in it.

Coke opened the scoring midway through the first half for Unai Emery's side but David Barral levelled a few minutes later from the penalty spot.

The Andalusians launched attack after attack on the Levante goal in the second half but were continuously denied by the saves of Navas, until Ivan Rakitic restored the lead on 68 minutes. But Loukas Vyntra pulled the visitors level, before Simao grabbed the winner with 15 minutes remaining.

But there was still time for more drama in injury time, with Nikos Karabelas seeing red for a late tackle on Jairo, who was then sent off a minute later for a shove on Barral.

Valencia and Espanyol shared the spoils in an entertaining game at Mestalla which ended 2-2.

In a frantic start to the game, Jhon Cordoba opened the scoring for the visitors inside three minutes, but Paco Alcacer levelled only four minutes later.

A header from Jonas put Juan Antonio Pizzi's side in front on 32 minutes, but Cordoba won a penalty just before the break, allowing Sergio Garcia to equalise.

Real Valladolid gave their survival hopes a welcome boost with a 1-0 win over high-fliers Villarreal.

Jesus Rueda's first-half goal divided the two sides and saw the hosts halt a run of four matches without a win as they look to escape the bottom three.

On Friday night, Celta Vigo ensured Gabriel Calderon's first game as Real Betis coach ended in disappointment as they ran out 4-2 winners against the Primera Division basement boys at Balaidos.

The Argentinian was appointed after Betis sacked Juan Carlos Garrido this week in a bid to improve the fortunes of a team which had collected just 11 points from their opening 20 fixtures in La Liga.

His tenure had looked set to get off to a positive start when Ruben Castro gave the visitors the lead in the 17th minute, but two goals from Fabian Orellana and one from Charles turned the match on its head before half-time.

Substitute Nolito added a fourth goal for the hosts 17 minutes from time and, although Ruben's second of the game made the scoreline more respectable, it was too little, too late.


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