La Liga: Week 3 Review; Valencia, Real Betis Remain Perfect, Barcelona Dominate, Real Madrid Lose

Roberto Soldado is currently the joint top scorer of the season, tied with Lionel Messi

Sporting Gijón 0 - 1 Valencia CF
Valencia moved to the top of the Spanish Primera División with their third successive victory to start the current campaign. Like their previous two victories, this one too came with the Mestalla outfit winning by single goal. The opening of the game was very competitive with neither team having an advantage. 30 minutes in, Valencia launched a quick counter attack with Jonas taking the shot, but Juan Pablo Colinas parried well, however, the rebound fell right in front of Roberto Soldado who powered it in. In the second 45-minutes teams exchanged scoring opportunities, but neither managed to add to the score.

Granada CF 1 - 0 Villarreal CF
Villarreal's struggles continue as they lost for the second time in three games, this time to newly promoted Granada. At the start of the game the hosts were the better team and that trend continued up until the point when Villarreal-loanee Ikechukwu Uche put his new team in the lead. Daniel González Benítez sent the cross inside the box where Uche headed it past César (56'). After falling behind Villarreal woke up and had a few golden opportunities, the best coming when Giuseppe Rossi stepped up to take a penalty, but he bounced it off the post straight to Jonathan De Guzman who, much like Fernando Torres, missed the open net.

RCD Mallorca 0 - 1 Málaga CF
Málaga enjoyed an uneventful evening on the island of Mallorca. The visitors dominated the game, but thanks to Mallorca's goalkeeper Dudu Aouate the match wasn't decided until the final whistle. Málaga secured the victory with the unlikeliest of goalscorers, center back Martín Demichelis. The Argentinian defender headed Santi Cazorla's free kick out of the reach of Aouate and to the back of the net (39'). In the second half the visitors scored again, but Salomon Rondon's strike was wrongly canceled out for offside.

FC Barcelona 8 - 0 Osasuna
Barcelona vented out all their frustration on a poor Osasuna side. The hosts dominated the game from the opening whistle and while the visitors did create a few opportunities, they were never a match for Barca's firepower. Led by Lionel Messi (5', 41', 79'), who was directly responsible for five goals (scored three and assisted on two), Barcelona controlled the game and enjoyed 82% of possession. David Villa (34', 76') Cesc Fabregas (13') and Xavi (57') also scored for the Catalans, while Osasuna's defender Rovérsio added to the miserable night with an own goal (40').

Sevilla FC 1 - 0 Real Sociedad
Sevilla managed to scrape out a victory in a game that offered very few real chances. Though, of the few opportunities most were created by the hosts. Sevilla tested Claudio Bravo throughout the match, but the Chilean proved to be a difficult man to beat. However, in the 53rd minute, Gary Medel brilliantly set up Frederic Kanouté who beat Bravo with a well placed shot. Sociedad struggled to get their attacking game going, but even being off their game, Mikel Aranburu had the opportunity to level the score. However, his shot went just wide of the post.

Getafe CF 0 - 1 Rayo Vallecano
Rayo Vallecano picked up their first win of the 2011-12 season against fellow Madrid club, Getafe. Rayo held the advantage in the first half and they were able to carry a solitary goal lead into halftime, courtesy of Michu's header from the 4th minute. Getafe seized control of the game in the second half, but some good saves by Dani Gimenez and some wastefulness by the hosts resulted in a clean sheet for the promoted club. Rayo's Miguel Pérez Cuesta and Dani Pacheco could have secured the win earlier on counterattacks, but both were stopped by Miguel Moya.

Real Zaragoza 2 - 1 RCD Espanyol
An entertaining game at La Romaleda ended in a deserved victory for the hosts. Former Espanyol striker Luis Garcia came back to haunt his former employers as he scored both Zaragoza's goals. The first came when a close range header beat Cristián Alvarez in the 25th minute, but for the second Luis had to wait for over an hour. In the meantime Espanyol picked up the pace and threatened more often, and even tied the game though Javí López (71'). The final minutes, however, belonged to Luis Garcia. First the striker missed a penalty, won by Nobrega Braulio (87'), but Garcia redeemed himself by scoring the winning goal in the third minute of added time.

Atlético Madrid 4 - 0 Racing Santander
In his second game with the Spanish capital club, Radamel Falcao made his presence felt with a brilliant hat-trick. A constant threat, the Colombian striker broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute with a shot just inside the post. Fellow new kid Diego then won a penalty for his team, which was successful taken by Falcao (36'). In the 55th minute, the Colombian added his name to the scoreboard once more with a nice chip over Santander's goalkeeper Toño. Adding the icing on the cake was ex-Deportivo man Adrián López who scored his first goal in a Rojiblancos' shirt (78').

Levante UD 1 - 0 Real Madrid
The hosts produced one of the biggest upsets of the season in any of Europe's big leagues this season, when they overcame Spain's other credible title contender, Real Madrid. The Valencia based side opted for very physical play, which was reflected in eight yellow cards. Their overly physical approach caused their guests frustration and a red card for Sami Khedira (40'). Despite dominating possession, Los Blancos couldn't translate that into chances, let alone goals. The lone goal of the match came on a quick play by Levante that was capped of by a powerful shot from Arouna Koné (68'). From that point on the hosts defended well and kept Real at bay.

Athletic Bilbao 2 - 3 Real Betis
Like Valencia, Real Betis maintained their 100% record so far this season and they did so at one of the toughest venues in Spain, the San Mamés. Betis started the match with a bang as they took the lead in the 7th minute through Beñat's fantastic free-kick. Six minutes later Perez Nacho doubled the lead with a well placed shot.

Betis had the opportunity to further increase the lead, but it were actually the Basques who capitalized on a visitors' defensive error, Oscar De Marcos scored (38'). In the closing seconds of the first half the visitors were awarded a penalty shot, which was successfully converted by Salvador Lopez Sevilla (45+1'). After some back and forth play in the second half, the Basques managed to pull one back when David López fired in a spot kick. However, despite a man up Athletic couldn't score the equalizer.

Recap
Last week Barcelona dropped two important points, this week Real Madrid crumbled and gave up three points to a team made up of loanees, rejects and free agents. Lavente showed fighting spirit and no matter how Jose Mourinho tries to spin it (read blames) Levante deserved to take the giants' scalp. Due to the loss Los Blancos no longer have a perfect this season, only Valencia and the surprising Real Betis now boast that.

On the bottom end of the Primera División table, the struggles for Athletic Bilbao continue. Marcelo Bielsa has a lot of work to do to get his team, with tons of talent, to the upper echelon of La Liga. This week's game showed how Ander Herrera is missed in Bilbao. His creativity in midfield was notably absent, as Ander Iturraspe and Susaeta just weren't as competent in distribution of the ball as the injured youngster.

All newly promoted teams have now garnered at least one victory. While Real Betis already have three and currently only trail Valencia in the standings, Granada and Rayo Vallecano achieved their first victories this weekend. Granada beat out the completely out-of-sync Villarreal, whereas Rayo defeated another Madrid based club, Getafe.

Had Barcelona not fired eight into Osasuna's net this would have been a very low scoring week, but altogether the tally stands at 26. Regardless, this has to be considered a bellow average goalscoring week as six of the ten games played ended with a 1-0 score. For comparison, in the first two match-days combined only four matches ended with that result. Referees had two busy days as they showed a season high four red cards and awarded five penalty shots, also a season high.

Match-day four begins today, September 20 and will be also played on the following two day, September 21 and 22.

 



GP W D L +/- Pts
1 up Valencia CF 3
3
0
0 3
9
2 up Real Betis 3
3
0
0
3
9
3 up FC Barcelona 3
2
1
0
13
7
4 up Sevilla FC 3
2
1
0
2
7
5 down Real Madrid
3
2
0
1
7
6
6 up Málaga CF 3
2
0
1
4
6
7 up Levante UD 3
1
2
0
1
5
8 up Rayo Vallecano 3
1
2
0
1
5
9 up Atlético Madrid
3
1
1
1
3
4
10down Real Sociedad
3
1
1
1
0
4
11 up Real Zaragoza 3
1
1
1
-5
4
12 down Osasuna 3
1
1
1
-7 4
13 down RCD Espanyol
3
1
0
2
-1
3
14 down RCD Mallorca
3
1
0
2
-1
3
15 up Granada CF 3
1
0
2
-4
3
16 down Athletic Bilbao
3
0
1
2
-2 1
17 down Getafe CF
3
0
1
2
-3 1
18 down Racing Santander
3
0
1
2
-5 1
19 down Villarreal CF
3
0
1
2
-6 1
20 down Sporting Gijón
3
0
0
3
-3 0

 

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