A descriptive roundup of La Liga matches from Saturday
Table-toppers Real Madrid failed to register a win in their second consecutive game as they were held by Las Palmas for a 2-2 draw on Sunday. It was substitute Sergio Araujo's 85th-minute equalizer that denied the visitors a chance to extend their lead on the points table. The highlight of the day, however, was when star striker Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted off the field, when Real were leading 2-1 in the second half.
The Portuguese looked far from his best, and looked clearly unhappy when he was eventually replaced by Lucas Vazquez. Las Palmas edged their opposition in terms of possession, despite being on the back foot at one stage. However, it was Real who strode into the lead through Marco Asensio’s 33rd minute strike. The home team then immediately equalized as Dominguez Placeres found the net five minutes later.
The visitors were staring at the finishing line when Benzema put them in front in the 67th minute. But Sergio Araujo’s goal in the 85th minute sparked celebrations in the home camp thus denying the Spanish giants a much-needed win. It was also Real’s second successive draw after their 1-1 stalemate against Villarreal last week.
Meanwhile, Barcelona moved within a point of the leaders, Real on the league table after their emphatic 5-0 win over Sporting Gijon. The defending champions hardly missed the services of Leo Messi, who has been sidelined for three weeks with a groin injury, were comfortably placed at the end of the first half, thanks to strikes from Suarez and Rafinha within a matter of three minutes.
The second half turned out to be more dramatic, more so for the home team as their skipper Alberto Lora was sent off due to a second yellow card, in the 74th minute for a late challenge on Sergi Roberto. From then on, Barcelona shifted gears and dominated the match, especially in the final 10 minutes where they scored three goals, including a brace from Neymar. This was also the second week in a row when Barca scored five away goals. Barcelona have a Champions League fixture against Borrusia Monchengladbach on Thursday, before they take on Celta Vigo in the La Liga, where a win could propel them to the top of the points table. Sporting Gijon, on the other hand, remained 12th on the table.
In another enticing encounter, Athletic Bilbao scored a crucial win over rivals Sevilla. Despite dominating possession throughout the game, the visitors were left on the back foot as Bilbao constantly pressed forward. Sevilla’s Samir Nasri cancelled San Jose’s early strike before Balenziaga handed the lead back to the home team. In the final few minutes of the game, Sevilla keeper Ibaro was sent off for elbowing Aduriz, earning a penalty which Aduriz successfully converted. The win saw Bilbao switch places with Sevilla to occupy the third position on the points table.
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