La Liga Roundup, Feb. 14
Barcelona suffered its first league defeat of the season on Sunday,
losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid to blow the title race wide open.
Atletico’s Jose Antonio Reyes dribbled past two men before
sending a long pass through for Diego Forlan, who shot first time
past Victor Valdes in the 10th minute.
Simao Sabrosa scored Atletico’s second when he curled a
freekick into the right-hand corner of the net in the 23rd minute,
while Zlatan Ibrahimovic volleyed in unmarked at the far post from
a Barcelona corner just four minutes later.
Barcelona remains top, on 55 points from 22 matches, but Real
Madrid, which beat Xerez 3-0 on Saturday, is only two points
behind. Atletico is 11th on 27 points.
“Atletico played a good game, above all in defense,” said
Valdes. “In this stadium, it’s always difficult for us.”
Earlier Sunday, Luis Fabiano scored the winner as Sevilla
beat Osasuna 1-0.
In the 35th minute Diego Capel raced down the left wing, cut
inside and crossed for the Brazil striker to score with a powerful
Sevilla has 39 points and replaces Mallorca in fourth
With several first-choice defenders unavailable due to
supension and injuries, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola played
Jeffren Suarez and Maxwell as full backs with Gabriel Milito and
Carles Puyol in central defense.
Atletico went into the game at its Calderon Stadium on the
back of having reached the Copa del Rey final in midweek.
“We were playing the best team in the world,” said Sabrosa.
“We knew exactly what we had to do in terms of tactics.”
In a frenetic game, Barcelona tested the Atletico defense in
the opening minute, Lionel Messi looping a ball through for
Ibrahimovic which goalkeeper David de Gea only just managed to
Midfielder Seydou Keita suffered a muscle strain almost
immediately and Pedro Rodriguez replaced him in the eighth minute.
Barcelona technical secretary Txiki Beguiristain said the player
could be out for up to four weeks.
Barcelona enjoyed more of the possession, although it rarely
settled into its quick passing game due to Atletico’s pressure. The
hosts looked dangerous on the break, with Sergio Aguero outstanding
alongside Forlan in attack.
The Argentina forward looked certain to score when he was put
through in the 18th minute although he chose to pass to Forlan
instead and Puyol intercepted. Aguero had another chance when he
forced a save from Valdes with an effort from inside the area that
rebounded off Ibrahimovic. He then had a shot saved again after
being sent through by Tomas Ujfalusi.
Ibrahimovic tested De Gea moments later, drawing a save after
jigging past his marker and shooting low.
Aguero continued to torment Barcelona throughout the second
half and Puyol had to make a last ditch tackle on him as the
striker charged into the penalty area.
In the 79th minute, Barcelona striker Bojan Krkic replaced
Xavi Hernandez, who had been unusually subdued.
With the clock ticking down, Messi shot wide and his team’s
hopes of an equalizer vanished.
“I don’t have too many complaints to make about the team,”
Guardiola said. He added that Barcelona lost “partly because we
weren’t always well positioned when we lost the ball – we weren’t
always quite right – but partly also because of the way Atletico
Regarding the title race, the coach said: “It depends on
(Real Madrid) but it also depends on us if they are now two points
Sevilla reached the final of the Copa del Rey in midweek
after eliminating Getafe and the home side lacked energy at its
Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Osasuna looked like equalizing several times, with Walter
Pandiani heading just wide in the 18th minute and Andres Palop
having to save in the 28th when Javier Camunas shot from wide on
Sevilla hit back when Capel fed Luis Fabiano in the 20th,
Ricardo Lopez saving the Brazil forward’s shot.
Lopez had to save again moments later when Renato had a low
shot after being set up by Frederic Kanoute.
In the 55th minute, Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo replaced the
limping Kanoute in attack and Diego Perotti came on for Capel in
Jose Maria Callejon scored one goal and set up another as
Espanyol beat 10-man Deportivo La Coruna 2-0.
In the 39th, Callejon dribbled down the right and crossed for
Joan Verdu to tap in at the near post.
Callejon then made some space at the edge of the area on the
hour mark and fired home. He dedicated the goal to Daniel Jarque,
his former teammate and captain who died last year after suffering
a heart attack.
The result lifts Espanyol into 11th place on 26 points. La
Coruna remains sixth on 35 points.
Malaga beat Racing Santander 3-0 with goals from Weligton,
Salvador Caicedo and Victor Obinna. Santander’s Mohamed Tchite was
sent off in the 79th minute for dissent.
Almeria’s Fernando Soriano scored an injury-time goal to draw
2-2 with Getafe and Valladolid drew 1-1 with Zaragoza.
Also, Sporting Gijon and Valencia drew 1-1 and Villarreal
beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1.
At the Cornella-El Prat Stadium, La Coruna’s Ivan Perez came
close twice in the first half, driving wide in the eighth minute
before shooting over in the 33rd when trying to surprise goalkeeper
Carlos Kameni, before Verdu struck.
Espanyol’s Ivan Alonso had the ball in the net in the 57th
minute, only to have the strike ruled out for offside.
La Coruna’s Antonio Tomas was dismissed in the 55th minute
for elbowing Francisco Chica in the face, shortly before Callejon
scored Espanyol’s second.
However, La Coruna had a clear chance to score when Rodolfo
Bodipo was put through with only the ‘keeper to beat, but Kameni
anticipated his shot.
On Monday it’s Tenerife vs. Mallorca.