Great for La Liga top 3, tough for strugglers

Madrid, Feb 17: There was no change at the top of La Liga as Real Madrid beat Getafe to remain level on points with FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Kicking-off a day after their rivals had both won easy home matches, Real Madrid, who were without suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, wasted no time in taking the lead as Jese Rodriguez scored a lovely curling shot from the edge of the Getafe penalty area Sunday, reports Xinhua.

Getafe are in crisis having failed to win since November and Karim Benzema’s goal doubled Madrid’s lead after 27 minutes. Luka Mordic sealed the win with Real Madrid’s third goal.

Barcelona had breezed past Rayo Vallecano 6-0 Saturday. Lionel Messi made a bit of history with two goals — his 227th and 228th — taking him above Alfredo Di Stefano and level with Raul Gonzalez in the all-time list of goalscorers in La Liga.

Messi also found time to set up Alexis Sanchez for their third and had a hand in Pedro Rodriguez’s goal, which made it 4-0. Adriano had opened the scoring after a minute and later Messi made way for Neymar, who celebrated his return from injury with a powerful shot from outside the penalty area.

Atletico Madrid had few problems with struggling Valladolid. Raul Garcia and Diego Costa had put Atletico 2-0 up in five minutes and Diego Godin’s goal with 15 minutes remaining was the icing on the cake.

Then Sunday saw Athletic Club Bilbao slip to a surprise home defeat to Espanyol, who took the points thanks to goals from Sergio Garcia and Diego Colotto. Carlos Gurpegui scored the goal for the home side, who are still four points clear in fourth place despite the defeat.

Sevilla saw Ivan Rakitic miss a penalty as Valencia held on for a 0-0 draw in the Sanchez Pizjuan despite having Ricardo Costa sent off early in the second half.

While it was a good week for the three at the top, it was a disastrous weekend for the sides at the bottom with Rayo and Valladolid both losing while bottom placed Betis also losing 0-1 away to Granada, who move six points clear of the drop zone after Piti scored the only goal of the game.

In this context, the 0-0 draw between Elche and Osasuna Friday can be seen as a good result for both sides, who edge a little closer towards safety.

The drama of the weekend came in Villarreal Saturday when the El Madrigal Stadium was evacuated after someone threw a teargas canister onto the pitch in the 88th minute of the home side’s match against Celta Vigo.

The game was suspended for 25 minutes to allow the air to clear and the remaining minutes were played in front of virtually empty stands, allowing Celta to capitalise on the chaos and take a 2-0 win.

IANS