It was an interesting week in Spain. The top three – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico won comfortably, hardly breaking any sweat, while the biggest drama was produced between the mid-table and relegation battling sides.
Hero of the week
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
With Lionel Messi out injured, the onus was on the Portuguese to dazzle for theboth of them. And he did not disappoint. Real Madrid were playing for the last time at San Mames and Ronaldo scored a magnificent free-kick to give the lead to Real Madrid in the second minute.
Then in the second half with neither team scoring, Ronaldo stepped up to score a well-placed header off a Xabi Alonso free-kick and gave Real Madrid the lead. He was not finished as he wrapped up his excellent performance with an assist to Higuain, making it 3-0. The Portuguese superstar(also superhuman in some quarters) now has scored a mind-boggling 50 goals in 48 games so far this season.
Villain of the week
Gary Medel (Sevilla)
With Sevilla leading 3-2, Gary Medel’s reckless push on José Alberto Cañas in the face in the 55th minute earned him a red. It was his seventh red card in 89 games since joining Sevilla and he could not have chosen a worse time for it. Sevilla hung on till the 90th minute until Betis equalized.
Match of the week
Betis 3-3 Sevilla
It was the most anticipated match of the week and it justified all the hype. The Seville derby started off brightly for Sevilla who dominated the first half and raced to a 3-0 lead courtesy of a brace from Rakitic and Negredo. The writing was clear on the wall for Betis – another humiliation at the hands of their bitter rivals. Sevilla had lost only three times in 20 years at Betis. No history was in their favor. Sevilla had never lost a three-goal lead in the first division.
As the first half was drawing to a close, Gary Medel’s misplaced pass found Pabon who made it 1-3. In the second half, Betis won a penalty when Fazio fouled Jorge Molina. Ruben Castro stepped up and made it 2-3. More than half an hour left.
Gary Medel’s reckless push on José Alberto Cañas in the face earned him a red and Sevilla were now truly in trouble. But they held on. Both teams went for goals as the match became entertaining. And then, in the 90th minute, Nosa Igiebor equalized for Real Betis. Six goals, six yellow cards, one red card and plenty of entertainment.
But the game was overshadowed by incidents which involved no football. After the equalizer Nosa held up his fingers in an offensive gesture with coach Pepe Mel holding up one finger with the same gesture. After the game both of them apologized for their actions.
“I want to apologise to the fans for the gesture, which was not directed at them,” Nosa told Estadio Deportivo. “But I will not tolerate the racial abuse which I was receiving from some brainless fanatics. The act came from frustration.” Pepe Mel realized his folly and apologized on twitter. “I insist that the unfortunate gesture was not for Sevilla nor for ‘sevillismo‘,” the tweet read. “Even still I apologise for my stupidity. I am sorry.”
Even Fazio, the Sevilla defender got into an heated fight with the fans when he picked up his car at the stadium’s parking lot. According to reports blows were exchanged before the situation was brought into control.
Drama of the week
Espanyol 3-3 Valencia
For nearly 80 minutes, there was hardly any drama. The teams were heading towards a 1-1 draw when Joan Verdu scored in the 82nd minute to give the lead to Espanyol. Couple of minutes later, Jonas equalized for Valencia thanks to a Soldado and everybody thought, this was it. Until, Roberto Soldado himself stepped up and scored a magnificent goal to make it 3-2 in favor of Valencia in stoppage time.
After the goal, Raul Rodriguez who was warming up on the sidelines was sent off for dissent and this time too, everybody thought, this was it. Time was almost up when a desperate punt into the box was misjudged by Victor Ruiz and Sergio Garcia pounced on the loose ball and made it 3-3. And immediately the final whistle blew. Phew!
Everything or Nothing moment of the week
Giovanni dos Santos (Mallorca)
Mallorca v Celta was the most consequential match of the week, a victory for either sides could be life-saving and a loss edging them towards guaranteed relegation. For 92 minutes, the match was a dull affair and a point for each would have a fair result but it would taken they further away from safety.
In the final minute of added time, a save by Celta’s goal-keeper found Dos Santos who coolly slotted the ball into the net. “That is very tough to take,” the dejected Celta coach, Resino, said afterwards. “We did not deserve to lose like that. A point would have been fair, that was unfair.”
Gregario Manzano was more philosophical in the wake of his side’s victory. “If there are miracles then that was one,” Manzano said. “In football sometimes things happen like tonight. There are some lovely and beautiful stories. One side leaves smiling, the other leaves sad.”
Betis 3-3 Sevilla
Valladolid 2-1 Getafe
Levante 0-4 Deportivo
Espanyol 3-3 Valencia
Málaga 1-0 Osasuna
Rayo 0-2 Real Sociedad
Atlético 5-0 Granada
Zaragoza 0-3 Barcelona
Athletic 0-3 Real Madrid
Mallorca 1-0 Celta