Deportivo La Coruna and Rayo Vallecano shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw on Monday night in what was a thoroughly entertaining La Liga clash.
The result keeps Deportivo in touch with the sides challenging for European places in the table. Rayo remain in the relegation zone with this draw, and although they’ll have been disappointed to have lost a lead twice, the Madrid-based outfit are within two points of the four teams above them.
Barcelona remain top of the pile after they beat fellow title challengers Atletico Madrid 2-1 at the Camp Nou on Saturday. Real Madrid remain in hot pursuit, though, as they hammered a hapless Espanyol side 6-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Here’s a look back at Monday’s clash, the results from this weekend’s games and how the table is shaping up after the round of fixtures was completed.
|Saturday, Jan. 30||Barcelona||2-1||Atletico Madrid|
|Saturday, Jan. 30||Getafe||0-1||Athletic Club|
|Saturday, Jan. 30||Eibar||1-2||Malaga|
|Saturday, Jan. 30||Villarreal||1-0||Granada|
|Saturday, Jan. 30||Real Sociedad||2-1||Real Betis|
|Sunday, Jan. 31||Sevilla||3-1||Levante|
|Sunday, Jan. 31||Valencia||0-1||Sporting Gijon|
|Sunday, Jan. 31||Las Palmas||2-1||Celta Vigo|
|Sunday, Jan. 31||Real Madrid||6-0||Espanyol|
|Monday, Feb. 1||Deportivo La Coruna||2-2||Rayo Vallecano|
|9||Deportivo La Coruna||22||6||12||4||29||25||+3||30|
From the off it was clear this was going to be an enthralling game, with both sides setting a blistering tempo.
It was the visitors who drew blood first. In the eighth minute, brilliant work from Rayo playmaker Quini put one on a plate for Miku, who made no mistake from close range. But Vallecano, who usually keep the ball so well, got a little complacent after edging in front early on.
Indeed, with a man like Lucas Perez up top, you can’t afford to give away chances. The in-form forward was played in by Luis Alberto and his expert finish was indicative of a centre-forward who has notched 14 goals already this season.
As we can see here courtesy of OptaJose, Perez’s goal cements his status as one of Deportivo’s top strikers in recent history:
14 - No Deportivo´s player has scored more goals in a single season in Liga than Lucas Perez since Makaay in 2002-2003. Star— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 1, 2016
There was no halt to the action either, as a breathless first half continued. Just four minutes later Rayo were back in front, as they were able to capitalise on a goalkeeping howler from Manu in the Deportivo net; he rolled it straight to Miku, who set up Jozabed to restore the one-goal cushion.
At the break, the visitors had a 2-1 lead and would have been keen to stay compact at the beginning of the second period. However, they were undone by a moment of genius from Deportivo’s winger Faycal Fajr, who smashed in a stunning, swirling equaliser within seconds of the restart.
The remainder of the clash saw both sides go in search of a potential winner, with Perez setting up Alberto for a shot which crashed off the woodwork. However, a point was fair for both sides having each performed admirably at the Estadio Riazor, treating those in attendance to a pulsating clash.
Barcelona came from behind to assert their position of dominance at the La Liga summit on Saturday, pulling three points clear of Atletico with a game in hand.
Koke gave the visitors the lead with a fine goal early on. Given Diego Simeone’s side’s stellar defensive record, an upset looked as though it may well have been on the cards. But goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi turned the game around for the Blaugrana, who were able to coast to victory after two Atletico players were dismissed.
As noted here by OptaJavier, when Suarez and Messi both get on the scoresheet, it usually bodes well for Barcelona:
100% - Barcelona won the 100% of the (20) matches when Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored goals. Infalibility. pic.twitter.com/8HSyxuyiQt— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) January 30, 2016
Elsewhere, Real moved to within one point of their city rivals with a 6-0 hammering of Espanyol, a rout inspired by the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese netted a sublime hat-trick on Sunday to put the Catalan outfit to the sword. Also on the scoresheet were both Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez, while an own goal from Oscar Duarte compounded the visitors’ miserable afternoon.
Ronaldo, as is evident by this statistic from the Guardian's Sid Lowe, loves playing against Espanyol:
[Edited tweet] 19 league goals for Ronaldo, joint top with Luis Suarez. 42% of them against Espanyol.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) January 31, 2016
The other standout result of the weekend was Valencia’s loss to Sporting Gijon at the Mestalla. For new manager Gary Neville it’s now eight games without a win in the league.
Sporting grabbed the victory through a second-half penalty from Antonio Sanabria.
With Los Che now just five points clear of the relegation zone, Neville is under big pressure to turn things around quickly.