MOURINHO'S TEAM PUT ON AN ABYSMAL DISPLAY AT LOS CÁRMENES
Real Madrid hits rock bottom in Granada
A Cristiano Ronaldo own goal –yes, you read that right, an own goal by Ronaldo– gave Granada an unexpected victory over Real Madrid, which fell back into its old ways. The defeat means Mourinho's team remains 15 points adrift of Barcelona, with a nervous wait to see how the league leader fares in Valencia.
With 21 minutes gone, Granada's Nolito swung a corner kick in from the left, which Cristiano Ronaldo managed to head over his keeper and into his own net.
Toño, the Granada keeper, had to wait until the 57th minute before he was tested with Real Madrid's first dangerous strike of the entire game. It was a long-range strike from Cristiano Ronaldo, which he parried for a corner. Up to that point, Granada had been extremely comfortable at the back, with Real Madrid incapable of producing any flowing football up front.
Real Madrid piled on the pressure in the final minutes, and Toño was forced to make another full-length save off a Callejón shot. The rebound fell to Benzema, but he inexplicably managed to shoot wide with the Madrid fans already celebrating the equaliser.
THE 'AZULGRANA' TEAM DREW (1-1) AT THE MESTALLA STADIUM
Valencia ties Barça in a knot
Barcelona could not get more than a draw against Valencia at the Mestalla stadium. The 'Azulgrana' team had the chance to move even further ahead of Real Madrid after the defeat of José Mourinho's side against Granada…but had to settle for just the one point. The 'Azulgrana' side faced an opponent at its best, putting in a strong physical display which prevented Barcelona from playing its usual football.
It was Valencia that opened the scoring. Éver Banega, making the headlines recently for turning up late to training, scored the first goal of the match with his right foot from a clearance inside the box. However, a clear penalty awarded to Pedro from a foul by Joao Pereira led to Leo Messi balancing the scores.
In the second half, both teams went all out for the win but neither could get past the goalkeepers. Roberto Soldado had a great opportunity to score the second goal for Valencia just moments before the final whistle but Víctor Valdés saved Barcelona from defeat. The result keeps Barça as leader of the BBVA Liga with 59 points, while Valencia, with 34 points, takes a Europa League spot.
GRABBED WINNER 6 MINS AFTER COMING ON
Costa rollercoaster sends Betis flying
In the 62nd minute, just six minutes after coming onto the pitch, substitute Diego Costa pounced fastest to convert a loose ball from a corner and keep up Atlético's 100% home record. The Brazilian's introduction reinvigorated a game that had started like a house on fire before threatening to peter out.
The only goal of the encounter came after Miranda failed to make contact from an Atlético corner at the near post. However, the Brazilian's attempt succeeded in putting off not only teammate Adrián but the Betis goalkeeper and defence, too, allowing Diego Costa to steal into the six-yard box and nod into the empty net.
The goal breathed life into an encounter that seemed to be fading, with neither side seemingly willing to pull out all the stops in the search for victory. Ultimately, Costa's strike was enough to seal three more points for Cholo Simeone's team, which remains second and cut the gap on table-toppers Barcelona, who were held in Valencia.
The win means that the 'Mattress Makers' have still yet to drop a point at home this season, making it yet another happy trip home for Atlético fans.
In the other night kick-off, Real Sociedad chalked up a convincing 3-0 win at home to Mallorca.
ZARAGOZA MANAGES A DRAW AGAINST A LACKLUSTRE MÁLAGA
A goal and a point apiece
Real Zaragoza took a point from La Rosaleda, although it could have taken all three. Manolo Jiménez's men opened the scoring through Helder Postiga's well-taken goal, only to see Isco draw things level from the spot following a dubious penalty decision.
Isco could have sealed the points, but his effort found the crossbar. The woodwork then came to the rescue of a Málaga side that was far less dangerous than usual and was outplayed in the second half by a much livelier Zaragoza.
Two things stood out in Zaragoza's performance in Málaga. First and foremost, José Mari. The midfielder did much more than just "add balance" to his team and he formed a perfect partnership with each of his teammates.
Secondly, Zaragoza's solid performance stopped Málaga from enjoying one of its better days. Manuel Pellegrini's men looked uncomfortable throughout the game. Toulalan's return to the side didn’t allow them to control the midfield, Santa Cruz went unnoticed and only Isco, and to a lesser degree, Joaquín, offered any quality.
It's true that Isco could have sealed the points for Málaga. Pellegrini's star player scored a penalty - given for Paredes' apparent handball inside the box – and hit the woodwork following a defensive mix-up between Alvaro and Roberto. At the final whistle, all square and Zaragoza left La Rosaleda with a point… that could have been.
LEAGUE TABLE - Spanish Football
|Match 22||Sat. 2 & Sunday 3 Febr|