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La Liga Week 20 Review

Sevilla FC 4 - 1 Levante UD
A masterful performance by Luis Fabiano led Sevilla to their first consecutive victories in over two months. The game started off slow with the hosts patiently building their attacks. Constant pressure was rewarded when Fabiano scored his first of the night, a brilliant header from just inside of the box (28'). Julien Escudé doubled Sevilla's lead with a header at the near post (39') and only two minutes later Javi Venta tugged Navarro in the box for a penalty; a weak call and Fabiano converted. Against the flow of the game, Levante pulled one back, Xisco finished of a great play by Caicedo (58'). Fabiano completed his first hat-trick in over two years with a 20 yard shot into the corner (68').

FC Barcelona 3 - 0 Racing Santander
Barcelona tied a club record 14th straight league win, with a comfortable performance at home. Barely over a minute into the game Barca took the lead; Messi played a one-two with Villa and crossed it to Pedro who chested it home. By the half hour mark, the hosts should have been up by a couple more had it not been for some outstanding saves by Toño who kept the visitors close, but then Henrique committed a foul inside the penalty area. Messi sent Toño the other way for the halftime score of 2-0 (33'). Racing also had a couple chances to score but Valdés was up to the task. Iniesta scored the final goal of the game after another magical team move by Barca.

Valencia CF 4 - 3 Málaga CF
A terrific match was spoiled by an awful refereeing performance by Antonio Rubinos Pérez. Early on Valencia had no answer for Málaga's reapeated attacks and they found themselves down by one, when Rondón finished of a fantastic team play (10'). Five minutes later, Demichelis fouled Juan Mata ten feet from the goal and got himself sent off; the penalty was a good call but the red card was not. Mata tied it from the spot kick but even with the man disadvatage, Málaga still outplayed their hosts and they again took the lead through Rondón (35').

In the second half, Valencia came out flying and leveled the score when Roberto Soldado shot one by Asenjo (53'). In the 63rd minute Rosario received a red card for...well nobody really knows why. Facing only nine men Valencia piled on the pressure and took the lead when Ever Banega shot one in from the near side. The visitors had one last comeback left in them; Júlio Baptista scored his first for Málaga from 20 yards on a quick counter, but Valencia were not to be denied and Aritz Aduriz scored the winner a minute before the end of regular time.

Getafe CF 1 - 3 RCD Espanyol
Getafe continue to struggle as they dropped their fourth straight. They started strong and took the lead when Miku scored on an individual effort  (14'), but after the goal Espanyol pushed forward and earned the victory. At the halftime the score still showed Geta was in the lead, but seven minutes into the second half Espanyol equalized through a powerful shot by Luis Garcia (52'). It marked the beginning of the end for the home side as Espanyol would score two more in the next twelve minutes. Firstly José Callejón put them in the lead with a header (60') and four minutes later Sergio García scored on a counter attack.

Sporting Gijón 1 - 0 Atlético Madrid
Sporting provided the shocker of the weekend with an upset over the uninspired Atlético side. It was a game of very few scoring chances and only four shots on goal. The only goal of the game was scored by David Barral who shot it past De Gea from near the penalty kick spot. The Rojiblancos had a slight advantage in the ball possession department but they weren't able to generate much; their first scoring opportunity came well over the one hour mark. In the last effort to equalize Diego Forlán headed the ball toward the goal but goalkeeper Iván Cuéllar made a brilliant save to preserve the lead.

Real Zaragoza 1 - 0 Deportivo La Coruña
In a trend of relegation threatened teams winning, Zaragoza decided to join the party. The win marked the first time they have won consecutive game this season and they did it in dominant fashion. They took the lead when Said Boutahar scored from a free kick 25 yards from Aranzubía. His shot took a deflection near the wall and caught the goalkeeper on the wrong foot. Zaragoza's defense was impenetrable the whole game as they limited Depor to five shots; all of the wide of the net.

UD Almería 3 - 2 Osasuna
Almería continued their recent good form and extended their unbeaten run to four games. They took the ealry advantage when Carlos Badías headed a corner kick to the far side (8'). Three minutes later José Ulloa added to the lead when he put the ball into the empty net on a quick counter. The hosts slowed down after that and Osasuna took control and pulled one back through Calros Aranda who shot it from 20 yards out (24'). The visitors pushed for the equalizer but they allowed Ulloa to score again (55'). Osasuna did score one more, Dejan Lekic headed it in, but it proved to be to little to late (90+2').

Real Madrid 1 - 0 RCD Mallorca
Real Madrid returned to their winning ways with a narrow victory over the islanders. The Galácticos controled the better part of the game, but in the opening minutes it was Mallorca who had the better chance. Emilio Nsue's shot beat Casillas but his attempt bounced out from the inside part of the post. In the second half Real finally tested Dudu Aouate who was able to stop all shots but in the 62nd minute he was beaten. Karim Benzema decided to put in an effort in this game and capitalized on a rare defensive mistake by Mallorca. Mallorca came close to the equalizer but Webo saw his attempt from a tight angle saved in stoppage time.

Villarreal CF 2 - 1 Real Sociedad
Guiseppe Rossi led the Yellow Submarine to a come from behind victory to keep them ahead of Valencia in the League. Sociedad were completely outplayed but they did take the lead on what proved to be their only shot on net. It was a perfectly placed header by Mikel Aranburu that beat Diego Lopez (30'). Villarreal pushed forward, well they were actually staying on the attack the whole time and were sending shot after shot toward Claudio Bravo. They ended the game with 28 shots, 8 of them on goal but only Rossi was able to put the ball past the Chilean goalie. The Italian tied it with powerful shot (41') and three minutes after half time he put the host in the lead with chip over the goalkeeper. Villarreal continued to press for more but they couldn't beat Bravo.

Athletic Biblao 3 - 0 Hércules CF
Athletic earned a comfortable home victory over the slumping Hércules. The Basques took the lead only five minutes into the game when Javi Martínez headed in a corner kick. Fernando Llorente doubled the lead with a header of his own (59') and five minutes later Munaín put the game beyond any doubt with a well placed shot. The pace slowed down because of the commanding lead and Athletic allowed Hércules to come forward but they weren't able to score the consolitaion goal past the in-form Gorka Irazioz.

Recap
After a couple weeks of solid refereeing, this week won't be remembered for a high standard. Especially the Valencia - Malaga game was full of "questionable" calls. Overall the refereeing crews awarded three penalty kicks, one debatable, and two red cards, both of them very harsh decision.

Two more goals were scored than a week ago, 33, three of them from penalty kicks. There has been a lot of movement in the bottom half of the table lately and this week is no exception. The same should be expected for the next few weeks as only five points separate Hércules and Málaga, the 12th and 19th teams on the table.

Games of the 21st match-day will be played on January 29, 30 and 31.

GP W D L +/- Pts
1 same FC Barcelona 20 18 1 1 53 55
2 same Real Madrid 20 16 3 1 31 51
3 same Villarreal CF 20 13 3 4 19 42
4 same Valencia CF 20 12 4 4 10 40
5 same RCD Espanyol 20 12 1 7 2 37
6 up Athletic Bilbao 20 10 2 8 1 32
7 down Atlético Madrid 20 9 3 8 7 30
8 up Sevilla FC 20 9 2 9 -2 29
9 same RCD Mallorca 20 8 3 9 -2 27
10 down Getafe CF 20 8 3 9 -3 27
11 same Real Sociedad 20 8 1 11 -3 25
12 same Hércules CF 20 6 4 10 -9 22
13 same Deportivo La Coruña 20 5 6 9 -12 21
14 same Racing Santander 20 5 5 10 -14 20
15 up Sporting Gijón 20 4 7 9 -9 19
16 up Real Zaragoza 20 4 7 9 -14 19
17 down Osasuna 20 4 6 10 -9 18
18 up UD Almería 20 3 8 9 -14 17
19 down Málaga CF 20 5 2 13 -18 17
20 down Levante UD 20 4 3 13 -14 15