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La Liga Week 24 Round-up: Real Madrid continue title march, Barcelona annihilate Valencia


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By Peter McVitie

Tuesday 21 February 2012


It was another exciting round of fixtures in the Spanish Primera Division with a total of 38 goals being scored across the weekend, the highest number of goals in a single weekend this season in Spain’s top league. Barcelona annihilated Valencia with a fantastic performance from Lionel Messi as the Argentine knocked four past Diego Alves; fourth place has finally been pried from the hands of Levante as their poor run of form continues; Sevilla are back to winning ways; Real Madrid continue to march onto the title; and at the bottom, Real Zaragoza have fallen further behind the pack.


Lionel Messi guided Barcelona to a 5-1 victory over third placed Valencia after going behind inside the first ten minutes. Pablo Piatti put Los Che ahead as he slotted a Sofiane Feghouli cross past Victor Valdes, but Messi netted two in five minutes to reverse the scoreline and grabbed another two in the second-half before playing a part in Xavi’s goal as the Spaniard finished off the scoring five minutes after coming off the bench.


Pep Guardiola’s men remain ten points behind Real Madrid who crushed Racing Santander 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night. An early header by Cristiano Ronaldo was followed by a Karim Benzema double and a fantastic strike from Angel di Maria in a routine victory for Jose Mourinho’s men.


After twelve weeks of occupying fourth spot, Levante have fallen out of the European places with a 5-3 defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.


Braces from Diego Da Silva Costa and Alhassane Bangoura saw the visitors lead 4-1 on 70 minutes after Jose Barkero had struck from the penalty spot for the hosts. Ruben Estrada reduced the Granotas’ deficit to two with just over ten minutes remaining but Andrija Delibasic inflicted further damage upon the home side, netting a fifth for Rayo. Estrada’s injury time spot kick gave Juan Ignacio Martinez’s side a consolation as they dropped to seventh place with no wins in their last eight matches.


Athletic Bilbao hurled themselves back into a top six spot this weekend after a 3-0 victory over Malaga, one of their biggest rivals for a European place.


Three goals in the space of three minutes from Fernando Amorebieta, Mikel San Jose and Gaizka Toquero secured the three points for Marcelo Bielsa’s side as they leapt from ninth to fifth.


A 1-1 draw away to Getafe lifted Espanyol up to fourth place. Alvaro Vasquez gave the visitors the lead after 66 minutes but their celebrations were short lived as Miku converted a penalty less than five minutes later. The draw sees Getafe hold onto their impressive home record having lost just two matches on their own turf, and sees Espanyol sit level on points with Bilbao with a better head-to-head record.


Atletico Madrid remain in sixth place after surrendering a one goal lead to draw 1-1 with Sporting Gijon. The visitors went ahead through a Roberto Canella own goal but Sebastian Eguren stabbed home from close range to pull his side level before half-time. Diego Simeone’s men pressed throughout the second-half as they looked to restore their lead and created several chances for top scorer Radamel Falcao, but the Colombian missed the target on several occasions as Gijon held onto the point.


Granada and Mallorca both lifted themselves five points clear of the relegation zone following shock victories over Real Sociedad and Villarreal respectively. Mallorca brought an end to Villarreal’s four game unbeaten run with a 4-0 mauling which leaves the Yellow Submarine hovering dangerously close to the drop zone, whilst despite falling a goal behind after 10 minutes Granada smashed four past Sociedad to beat the Txuri-urdin 4-1.


Sevilla brought an end to their eight-game winless streak with a 2-0 win over Osasuna and bottom club Real Zaragoza suffered their 14th defeat of the season as they lost 2-0 to Real Betis on Monday night, leaving them five points behind nearest opponents Sporting Gijon.


Saturday


Getafe 1-1 Espanyol


Real Madrid 4-0 Racing Santander


Sevilla 2-0 Osasuna


Sunday


Granada 4-1 Real Sociedad


Athletic Bilbao 3-0 Malaga


Mallorca 4-0 Villarreal


Sporting Gijon 1-1 Atletico Madrid


Levante 3-5 Rayo Vallecano


Barcelona 5-1 Valencia


Monday


Real Zaragoza 0-2 Real Betis


To make sure you don't miss any of A Different League's Spanish coverage this season, follow the La Liga dedicated Twitter feed: @differentliga




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