Leo Baptistão had just put Rayo Vallecano one up and Espanyol were on the back foot, yet again. Fans took to Social Media sites, and the trend was that it was time to sack Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine, ex player, was suffering a torrid start to the season, so too were the club. Towards the end of last season, they were forced to sell a percentage of the rights to some key players and over the summer they had to sell players too. To balance things out they had signed two La Liga veterans, Simao and Capdevila, the only problem was that Espanyol on the pitch had all the appearances of a kid lost in a supermarket and no matter how much they cried, they just couldn’t get out of the rut.
That was until Sunday. After conceding an early goal Los Periquitos pushed for an equalizer. Fans started to vent their fury on Twitter. The man to blame was Pochettino, a man who had trekked up Montserrat and asked for some divine intervention. After the success in 2009, some may wonder if doing so again in the distant future may be on the cards. Those who blame the Coach have conveniently forgotten the limitations he has had to work with and that maybe the ones to blame were sitting in the VIP section. As Rafa Benitez said ‘In England who get fired for your mistakes, in Spain for yours and those of others’.
They got one goal after 36 minutes through Joan Verdu. The game saw two red cards and both teams failing to take chances, with Espanyol hitting the post once. After half time the former Barca and Depor midfielder was on the score sheet again and it looked like happy days for the suffering fans. Yet, Leo had other ideas. The young Canterano has scored four goals this season and with no Tamudo, Costa or Michu, Rayo need him badly. Rayo have been lucky this season and came undone by something that has saved them in the past, the injury time goal. Stuani who had to come on for the injured Forlin after just twenty minutes was the goalscorer and it was ‘getting a monkey off our back’ according to former Spanish defender Capdevila. The only way is up now for Espanyol who although are still in the relegation zone are at least off the foot of the table.
Up the Basque country, Radamel Falcao did something he had never done in his professional career, score a free kick. In Colombia boyhood friends and youth Coach’s have all expressed their surprise that El Tigre hasn’t tried to take more free kicks as he was apparently very good at them as a kid. On Sunday night he stepped up and asked for the ball. His team mates looked surprised but they handed him the ball. A few seconds later they followed him to the corner were he was celebrating his 16th goal of the season and also secured the three points that meant that Atlético are still level on points with Barcelona at the top. Real Sociedad will feel hard done by. Vela shoulda made that sitter.
And speaking of Barca. A thrilling game with nine goals, six in the first half. A Messi hat trick, Jordi Alba scored twice, one at each end and Depor were three behind twice and still managed to get back into the game. At half time the scoreboard showed that Barca were leading 4-1 but a great comeback with a penalty from Pizzi and an own goal from Alba lead to a thrilling performance. Mascherano was sent off, Iniesta and Valeron both booked, it was a game full of action but Barca went home happy, still joint leaders.
For over an hour Valencia trailed at home to Athletic, with ex Valencia forward Aduriz putting the Bilbao side ahead twice. A rush of blood to the head and Ander got sent off and in the final three minutes Valencia would spring to life and goals from Tino Costa and Nelson Valdez gave all the spoils to Pellegrino.
Around the League
A fantastic late goal from Michel at Getafe saw Levante take the three points against their former Coach, Luis Garcia. Málaga started what would be the theme of the weekend, late goals. Joaquín who missed a penalty two minutes earlier, made amends and helped Pellegrini’s men continue their fantastic run and maintain third. Real Madrid are up to fourth. Beating Celta Vigo in a game where they had to play Essien as a left back. A gritty performance but three points all the same. Osasuna and Real Betis played out a terrible and boring goalless draw. Sevilla won the Monday night game against Mallorca, in a thriller, after being behind and are now sitting in 5th, one place above city rival Betis.
Results: Málaga 2 – 1 Valladolid, Real Madrid 2 – 0 Celta Vigo, Valencia 3 – 2 Athletic Bilbao, Deportivo 4 – 5 Barcelona, Getafe 0 – 1 Levante, Espanyol 3 – 2 Rayo Vallecano, Granada 1 – 2 Zaragoza, Osasuna 0 – 0 Real Betis, Real Sociedad 0 – 1 Atlético Madrid, Sevilla 3-2 Mallorca