La Liga Daily - Barcelona extend lead to seven points as Real Madrid falter
Barcelona´s 3-0 victory in Mallorca on Saturday night extended their lead at the top of La Liga to seven points as second-placed Real Madrid could only manage a 0-0 draw against Deportivo la Coruña.
It was Barca´s turn to play first this weekend and they strolled to victory against Michael Laudrup´s side despite missing regulars Victor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Dani Alves and Xavi. Lionel Messi opened the scoring on 37 minutes and further goals from David Villa and Pedro ensured a comfortable night´s work. The trio have now scored 56 league goals between them this term.
At the Riazor, Los Merengues failed to break down a gritty Depor team which had only won once in the last seven games. Goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia, fresh from last week´s goalscoring exploits, was again the hero as a string of fines saves earned the Galicians a vital point.
Earlier, Espanyol got back to winning ways after four straight defeats with a 4-1 home triumph over Real Sociedad. The hosts took the lead when Daniel Estrada deflected an Álvaro Vázquez shot past Claudio Bravo, but the defender immediately made amends when he levelled matters before the break. Sergio García restored Espanyol´s lead ten minutes after the restart before late goals from José María Callejón and Javi Márquez wrapped things up.
The Vicente Calderón saw an entertaining 2-2 draw between European hopefuls Atlético Madrid and Sevilla. Álvaro Negredo and Ivan Rakitic were on target for the visitors with Koke and José Antonio Reyes replying for Los Colchoneros. In truth the result was no good to either side: the same can also be said for strugglers Sporting Gijón and Real Zaragoza, who played out a scoreless draw at El Molinón.
Sunday evening saw some crucial fixtures for teams at the wrong end of the table. Levante, one place above the drop zone, improved their chances of survival by notching a 2-1 victory over Osasuna, their third consecutive home win. In-form marksman Felipe Caicedo was again on the scoresheet, his 50th minute strike enough to claim all three points after Sergio Ballesteros had equalised Walter Pandiani´s first-half header.
Hércules, who had defender Cristian Pulhac sent off, remain just above the bottom three after a 0-0 stalemate at home to Getafe. The visitors, having taken just six points from the last 27, need to start winning soon to get their season back on track.
Fourth-placed Villarreal had a 93rd minute goal from Brazilian striker Nilmar to thank for rescuing a point in a 2-2 draw with Racing Santander at El Sardinero. Argentinian striker Ariel Nahuelpan and substitute Giovani dos Santos got Racing´s goals, with Marco Rubén replying for Villarreal before Nilmar´s last-gasp equaliser.
Valencia later took the opportunity to move two points clear of the Yellow Submarine with a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the San Mamés. Fernando Llorente had given the Basques a 13th minute lead but second-half goals from Juan Mata and new signing Jonas gave Los Ché an eighth win in ten games.