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La Liga Round-up: Levante back on track, Ronaldo and Messi continue to astound


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By Peter McVitie

Tuesday 28 February 2012


It was another exciting week in La Liga as Levante returned to winning ways and, along with Sevilla, fired themselves back into the fight for European competition; Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi continued to astound us all with their individual brilliance, earning their respective sides three points; and Villarreal, Racing Santander and Sporting Gijon picked up important points in the battle for survival whilst Real Zaragoza fell further behind at the foot of the table.


Levante returned to fourth place this weekend after they beat Espanyol 2-1 at the Cornella El-Prat, ending their eight-game winless streak as well as their one-week exile from the Champions League qualifier spot. Valdo put the visitors in the lead as he collected an Arouna Kone pass and knocked it past Espanyol keeper Francisco Casilla.


Joan Verdu sent a free-kick into the box for Kalu Uche to head home to equalise for the Periquitos with 15 minutes left on the clock, but Ruben Suarez secured the three points for the Granotas with a fantastic free-kick from outside the box, sending his side back into the Champions League spot.


Levante are now in a position to fight for third as they are currently five points behind Valencia after Unai Emery’s men surrendered a one goal lead to lose to Sevilla on Sunday.


Alberto ‘Tino’ Costa blasted low into the bottom corner from 25 yards to put Los Che ahead before a Gary Medel header levelled the scores at half-time.


Jesus Navas netted the winner after 70 minutes when he slotted home from close range to clinch the victory for the Rojiblancos.


The result puts Sevilla in 10th place, just two points behind the Europa League spots and spells disaster for Valencia who have won just two of their last 10 league matches. If this poor run of form continues it could possibly see Valencia surrender third place, which they have occupied for the vast majority of the current campaign.


Osasuna are still hovering around the European places as their 2-1 win over Granada sees them on equal points with Athletic Bilbao and Malaga, who mauled Real Zaragoza 5-1 at La Rosaleda, with four goals being scored in the second half.


Lionel Messi made the difference once again for Barcelona as his stunning 81st minute free-kick proved to be the winning goal after Radamel Falcao cancelled out Xavi’s opener.


Real Madrid maintained their 10-point lead at the top with a 1-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano. An audacious and impressive back heel from Cristiano Ronaldo after 54 minutes was enough to extend Madrid’s winning streak to nine league games.


But Galacticos Coach Jose Mourinho said his side were lucky to take three points back to Madrid, insisting Rayo deserved at least a point.


He told the club’s official website: “A draw would have been a just result because Rayo were fantastic and they don't deserve people saying Real Madrid didn't play well. They deserve to hear they did a fantastic job against us.”


Villarreal picked up an important point as they held Athletic Bilbao to a 2-2 draw on Sunday. The draw keeps the Yellow Submarine three points away from the relegation zone as Racing Santander and Sporting Gijon shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.


Saturday


Racing Santander 1-1 Sporting Gijon


Real Betis 1-1 Getafe


Malaga 5-1 Zaragoza


Espanyol 1-2 Levante


Sunday


Villarreal 2-2 Athletic Bilbao


Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Real Madrid


Osasuna 2-1 Granada


Real Sociedad 1-0 Mallorca


Valencia 1-2 Sevilla


Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona


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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