Athletic Bilbao 1 - 2 Deportivo La Coruña
Depor striker Adrian Lopez led the charge and ended Bilbao's six game home winning streak. In the wake of Wednesday's cup match against Barcelona, Bilbao left some starters on the bench and it hurt them. They did control the game but were terribly ineffective and on the other side the visitors scored on two of their three shots. Midway through the first half Deportivo won a penalty kick, it was a weak call, and Adrian converted it (22'). The same player doubled the lead when he beat Gorka Iraizor from the edge of the box (52'). Athletic pushed forward after that and they got a lifeline when Fernando Llorente headed one in from close range (86'), but it turned out to be to little to late.
FC Barcelona 2 - 1 Levante UD
Pedro's brace was enough to negate Levante's gutsy performance. Barcelona applied early pressure but Levante defended bravely and produced opportunities through well organized counter attacks. It was the home side, though, who had the best chances of the first half but none of them resulted in a goal. At the beginning of the second half Pedro scored with a clinical finish (47') and then added his second with a right-footed curling effort from the edge (58'). Christian Stuani gave Levante hope for a comeback with a fantastic volley from the edge of the box (81'), but it was nothing more than a consolidation goal.
Sporting Gijón 1 - 2 Málaga CF
In a match between two relegation zone teams, it was Málaga who did just enough to earn the three points. It was an evenly matched game and Sporting took the lead through a spot-kick, that was awarded for handling the ball. Diego Castro delivered a well taken penalty (42'), but only three minutes later it was all level again as Robson redirected a free kick to the back of the net. The second half was more of a defensive encounter, but it was Málaga who took advantage of one of the few opportunities. They were awarded a penalty kick for a foul inside the box and Apoño fired it straing down the middle (59').
Sevilla FC 1 - 0 Osasuna
Sevilla ended a five game losing skid with a narrow win at home. The game stared with good scoring chances on both sides and the goalkeepers had to be on their game to keep the score level. Sevilla then took the lead when Frédéric Kanouté headed in Navas' free kick (36'). The pace of the game fell dramatically after the tally and the hosts managed to calmly bring the game to an end and further disappoint Osasuna who owns the worst road record in the league and has picked up only two of possible 24 points.
Valencia CF 2 - 1 RCD Espanyol
Valencia needed every minute of the game to take points away from Espanyol in controversial fashion. The hosts started strongly and took the lead when Aritz Aduriz met a corner kick with his head (29'). Espanyol played well enough to deserve two points but they couldn't score on their own; so they received some help from defender Ricardo Costa who deflected the ball past his own goalkeeper (45+1'). Valencia pushed for the winner even after they were reduced to ten men and had many attempts saved by Idriss Kameni. In added time, though, Juan Manuel Mata slammed home the winner from a clear offside position but all protests fell on deaf ears.
Villarreal CF 2 - 0 UD Almería
The Yellow Submarine continued their good form with a convincing win over a struggling Almería team. Throughout the game Almería's defense looked like they were still on their holiday break. Borja Valero found José Manuel Catalá in the middle of the box and he headed home his first goal for Villarreal (22'). Valero added a goal to his assist when he shot a free kick from 20 yard out over the wall and inside the post. It could have ended much worse for the visitors had it not been for the outstanding performance by Diego Alves in the net.
Real Zaragoza 2 - 1 Real Sociedad
A last minute goal gave the relegation threatened Real Zaragoza their first win since November 7. And it was a well deserved win as they pressed for most of the game and Florent Sinama-Pongolle gave them the early lead with well placed shot (10'). Agaist the run of play, however, Xabi Prieto tied it with a cool finish. The host went back on the attack and just as it looked like their efforts will remain unrewarded Nobrega Braulio took the ball in the box and fired it past the helpless Claudio Bravo to decide the match (90').
Atlético Madrid 0 - 0 Racing Santander
Racing held Altético to a scoreless draw with a good defensive performance. Antonio "Toño" Martínez was definitely the man of the match making several great saves. The Rojiblancos sent attack after attack and were able to generate many good scoring chances but were left frustrated by the in-form Toño. Racing waited for their opportunities in counterattacks and they almost shocked the home crowd when Rosenberg was sent in all alone against David De Gea who made a crucial stop on the Swedish striker.
RCD Mallorca 3 - 0 Hércules CF
Mallorca ended their four game losing streak with a strong game against the newly promoted Hércules. The islanders look the better side from the beginning, but it took them 38 minutes to take the lead. Calatayud made a good initial save but the rebound went straight to Emilio N'Sue who fired it home. Only three minutes later Pierre Webo made it a two goal lead with a low drive. Shortly after the break Michael Pereira beat Calatayud from a bad angle with a powerful shot (51')
Getafe CF 2 - 3 Real Madrid
Angel Di Maria proved once again he was Madrid's best signing during the summer. At the 10 minute mark the Argentine fell down inside the area after a slight touch, won Real a penalty and Cristiano Ronaldo powered it into the back of the net (11'). Di Maria then beautifully assisted on Mesut Özil's fifth of the season, a shot just inside the post (19'). Daniel Parejo pulled one back with an impressive individual effort that ended with rising shot past Casillas (29'). Ronaldo scored his second of the match on a quick counter (57'), but Getafe didn't give up and they got some help when Arbeloa received his second yellow card (82'). Juan Albin gave them some hope when he slammed in the lose ball after a defensive breakdown, but they could not score the equalizer.
The first ten games of the New Year gave La Liga fans seven close games and if the remainder of the season will be anything close to this, fans of the Spanish league should be very excited.
The goalscoring, though, continues to drop, as there were only 26 goals scored this week, four of them from penalty kicks, but I'm sure that will pick up when teams get back to full speed. Five players were sent off, the most in the last five weeks
La Liga returns to its regular three day weekend on January 10, 11 and 12
At this point I would just like to remind everybody that you can use the comments to talk about any La Liga game of the week.
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