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La Liga Week 22 Review: Barcelona Set Record, Villarreal Stumble

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Athletic Bilbao 3 - 0 Sporting Gijón
Athletic extended their winning streak to four games, their longest of the season. After a competitive opening 15 minutes, the flow of the game completely changed with the dismissal of Arnolin Gregory. He received the second yellow for hauling down Fernando Llorente in the box. David López scored from the ensuing penalty kick (16'). Athletic was able to dominate against the 10 man opponents and Gaizka Toquero added to the lead with a shot from 10 yards out after a brilliant run down the left side by Iker Muniain. Llorente scored in the 74th minute to confirm the comfortable victory.

Real Zaragoza 1 - 1 Racing Santander
Racing ended Zaragoza's three game winning run but the hosts were still able to salvage a point. Racing were looking for just their second road win of the season and they were well on their way to it when Christian Fernández met Bakircioglu's cross and directed his header into the bottom corner. (14') Zarogoza were able to fight back before the halftime break; in the 40th minute Said Boutahar fired the ball into the bottom corner. In the second half both teams had a couple of chances to net the winner but neither managed to do so and a draw was probably the most fair result.

Getafe CF 4 - 1 Deportivo La Coruña
Getafe ended their five game winless streak with a demolition job against Deportivo. Adrián Colunga started the scoring with a double. His first was a low finish past Aranzubia (19') and then he shot one in from six yards out (26'). Depor did push forward but they always saw their attempts comfortably saved by Oscar Ustari. Just before the end of the half Miku scored with a close range effort to add to the lead (44'). The second half was much like the first with both teams preparing several good scoring chances for themselves. Geta scored again in the 57th minute, Pedro Ríos tallied with a 25 yard strike. The visitors pulled one back through a penalty, Riki was the scorer (68'), but it proved to only be a consolidation goal.

UD Almería 3 - 2 RCD Espanyol
Almería was able to continue their recent good form with a surprising victory over Espanyol. The home side raced to a 3-0 lead in just under 20 minutes. It all started just five minutes in when Silva Marcelo Henrique connected with a cross and sent the ball into the top of the net with a diving header. Two minutes later Kalu Uche beat Idriss Kameni with a weak shot from a tight angle. Almería's scoring surge was completed in the 18th minute through Hernán Bernardello. He fired a shot from the right side and after a redirection the ball squeaked by Kameni.

Espanyol then organized a fierce comeback but it fell just short. Firstly Joan Verdu scored after a very long siege of the home net (34'). Álvaro Vázquez then brought them within one with a nice redirection of a cross (49'), but then the hosts tightened up and allowed very little to their opposition and held on for the win.

Osasuna 1 - 1 RCD Mallorca
Osasuna were unable to hold on to the early lead against the struggling Mallorca team. Both teams were looking for a positive result to build on and it were the hosts who took the early advantage. Miguel Flaño jumped on a loose ball after a save by Dudu Aouate and shot it into the open net (8'). Mallorca managed to get the equalizer through Gonzalo Castro, who shored with a well placed shot from the edge of the area (37'). There weren't many good opportunities in the remainder of the game, but the best one was definitely came from Pandiani who hit the crossbar shortly after the tying goal.

Villarreal 0 - 1 Levante UD
Levante caused one of the biggest shocks of the season with a gutsy performance at El Madrigal. The visitors played a very good game and were the most dangerous of the teams, despite enjoying much less ball possession. They probably deserved to take the lead by halftime, with Juanfran and Stuani missing the best opportunities. Shortly after the break Valdo put Levante in front after he was put through he rounded the goalkeeper Lopez and guided the ball into the back of the net (48'). Villarreal on the other hand played like they were uninspired and even after they found themselves down by one they weren't able to threaten Levante's net.

FC Barcelona 3 - 0 Atlético Madrid
Barcelona's record braking season continued with their 16th straight league win. On the other side Atlético suffered yet another defeat, their third in a row and fourth in last five games. The scoring started in the 17th minute when Messi fired a low drive past the outstretched De Gea. Eleven minutes later the Argentine added to his tally after he luckily received the ball in the area and poked into the net. The second half was more competitive, mainly due to the arrival of Forlán as a substitute but the visitors were still unable to score despite good opportunities. Messi, however, did complete the hat-trick after he outhustled Ujfalusi to the ball after a center by Villa.

Sevilla FC 0 - 0 Málaga CF
Málaga ended their three game losing streak with a scoreless draw at the seemingly always struggling Sevilla. This was not a very entertaining game, there were very few scoring chances and there was a long time between them. Julio Baptista almost put the visitors in the lead with the best attempt of the first half, but his shot was easily saved. In the second half Sevilla managed to muster up a couple of shot both neither caused any danger to Arnau's net. Sevilla are right now a far cry from their best form and it is debatable if they are capable of better results this year.

Real Madrid 4 - 1 Real Sociedad
Real Madrid returned to thier winning ways with a comfortable victory against Real Sociedad. After he was clearly unhappy with the teams performance a week ago, Mourinho made a couple of changes in the team and it paid off immediately. Kaká scored his second of the season after a sloppy clearing attempt by Gorka Elustondo (8'). Cristiano Ronaldo then ended his four game scoring drought with a brace. His first was a long range left footed shot (21') and his second was header after a corner kick (42'). The visitors also had a couple of fabulous scoring chances in the first half but Raul Tamudo was denied on both occasion.

The second half wasn't as entertaining as the first one as Real Madrid slowed down with the controling lead. Tamudo was denied again in the 71st minute but this time the ball ricocheted into Arbeloa and into the net. Emmanuel Adebayor then managed to score his first La Liga goal with a side-footed finish (89').

Valencia CF 2 - 0 Hércules CF
After a surprising draw a week ago, Valencia won again with a strong performance at home, it was their sixth win in last seven games. Los Che gave the visitors no opportunity to develop anything as they controlled the ball and continually pressed toward Hercules' goal. Hercules were able to fend off the opposition until the 43rd minute when Aritz Aduriz capitalized on a rare defensive mistake. Alberto Costa then doubled the lead with a brilliantly taken 25 yard free kick (53'). The game ended in a frantic finish with both teams producing a couple of golden scoring chances but neither team managed to change the score.

Recap
After a long time with the same ten coaches in the league (ten weeks), Racing Santander decided to relieve Miguel Angel Portugal of his duties. Initial reports suggest that his replacement will become Marcelino.

This was not a particularly good week for all you high scoring fans as there were only 28 goals scored, yes, that is two goals more than a week ago but it is far away from the highest scoring weeks of the season. Two goals were scored from penalty kicks.

After an uncharacteristically red match-day a week ago, this week was normal as there was only one player sent off.

La Liga returns to their three day schedule next week. Games will be played on February 12, 13 and 14

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GP W D L +/- Pts
1 same FC Barcelona 22 20 1 1 59 61
2 same Real Madrid 22 17 3 2
33 54
3 same Villarreal CF 22 14 3 5 19
45
4 same Valencia CF 22 13 5
4 12 44
5 up Athletic Bilbao 22 12 2
8
6
38
6 down RCD Espanyol 22 12 1
9
0
37
7 up Sevilla FC
22 9 4
9
-2
31
8 down Atlético Madrid 22 9 3
10
2 30
9 up Getafe CF 22 9
3
10
-2 30
10 down Real Sociedad
22 9 1
12
-4 28
11 same RCD Mallorca
22 8 4
10
-6 28
12 up Real Zaragoza 22 5
8
9
-13 23
13 down Sporting Gijón
22 5
7
10
-8 22
14 up Osasuna 22 5 7
10
-8 22
15 down Hércules CF
22 6
4
12
-14 22
16 up Racing Santander 22 5
7
10
-14 22
17 down Deportivo La Coruña 22 5
7 10 -15 22
18 same Levante UD 22 6
3
13
-11 21
19 same UD Almería 22 4
8
10 -15 20
20 same Málaga CF
22 5
3
14 -19 18