Villarreal draw, Xavi declares war
Villarreal needed a stoppage time penalty from Giuseppe Rossi to salvage a 1-1 draw at Sporting Gijon on Sunday as they lost ground on Spanish league leaders Real Madrid.
A Diego Castro goal on 68 minutes looked set to condemn Villarreal to their first defeat since the opening day of the season, however, Italian international forward Rossi converted a spot-kick in the dying seconds for his sixth league goal of the season. Third-placed Villarreal extend their unbeaten league run to eight games but fall three points behind pacesetters Real Madrid and two behind Barcelona in second.
"We deserved to win when you look at the game as a whole," said Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido. "Sporting have a good coach and good players and it is never easy to win here."
In other matches, Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at home to strugglers Almeria on Sunday and lie down in sixth ahead of next weekend's derby against leaders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Argentine Sergio "Kun" Aguero put Atletico in front on 33 minutes but compatriot Pablo Piatti levelled for the visitors on the stroke of half-time. Atletico had no response and the draw means the UEFA Europa League champions have taken four points from the last 12 in the league and lie nine points behind their next opponents Real Madrid.
Athletic Bilbao maintained their strong home form with a resounding 3-0 victory over Getafe tonight. The Basque side have now won three of their last four games at San Mames - the one defeat in that run coming against Barcelona - after Getafe were dispatched with ease. Defenders Andoni Iraola and Mikel San Jose had the hosts 2-0 up inside 12 minutes and substitute Igor Gabilondo rounded off the win seven minutes from time.
Deportivo La Coruna finally recorded their first win of the season and did it in style with a 3-0 home victory over Espanyol at the Riazor Stadium. Goals from Adrian Alvarez and centre-backs Alberto Lopo and Diego Colotto helped Depor move off the bottom of the table - with winless Real Zaragoza slumping to the foot of the table - with their maiden win.
Promoted Real Sociedad moved up to ninth in the table with a 2-1 win at stuggling Malaga who lie third from bottom. Racing Santander produced their best performance of the Primera Division season to beat Osasuna 4-1 this evening and move out of the bottom three. First-half goals from Kennedy Bakircioglu and Markus Rosenberg set the hosts on their way and, after Javad Nekounam had pulled one back from the spot, further strikes from Rosenberg and former Espanyol defender Marc Torrejon sealed the win. The Cantabrians had lost five of their opening eight matches and came into this match in 18th place.
The northerners had also lost 2-0 to Segunda Division Cordoba in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday and pressure was increasing on coach Miguel Angel Portugal ahead of this match. Nevertheless, Portugal claimed he was fully focused on this match and the coach will have been pleased with the reaction of his players. The win moved Racing up to 12th, one place above Osasuna.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Barcelona thrashed Sevilla 5-0 at the Camp Nou to stay within a point of leaders Real Madrid and midfielder Xavi Hernandez said the consistency of Real was pushing them on. "They (Real) are doing things very well and that stimulates us," said Xavi. "We won't get into a war of words with (Jose) Mourinho we want a war on the pitch."
Real are unbeaten under coach Jose Mourinho and came from behind to win 3-1 at Hercules and retain top spot in the Spanish first division. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late brace to make it 11 league goals for the season to top the goal-scoring charts four ahead of Barcelona's Lionel Messi. "I'm in great form and having a phenomenal run," said Ronaldo. "I am scoring goals and I'm happy because we are still leading the table."