La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia and Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

Rael MasonCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2010

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Sporting Gijon 0 – 2 Valencia

    Two goals in the first ten minutes made it a comfortable evening for Valencia as they took all three points to move clear at the top of La Liga. Valencia made seven changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid in midweek, and the move paid off in fine style.

    The first goal came inside seven minutes as Turkish midfielder Mehmet Topal headed home at the near post from a Manuel Fernandes corner. Two minutes later they doubled their lead with a clever flick from Pablo Hernandez releasing Juan Mata down the Valencia left. Mata’s pinpoint cross was timed to perfection and was met by the onrushing Roberto Soldado for a simple tap-in, his first league goal since his summer move from Getafe.

    Soldado was Valencia’s seventh different scorer in the league already this season, an indication of the wealth of talent throughout the side. They looked strong defensively as well, restricting the hosts to only one shot on target as they eased to a comfortable victory.

    The victory, coupled with Madrid’s draw, sees Valencia move clear at the top of La Liga with 13 points, while Gijon are in 17th on four points.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Levante 0 – 0 Real Madrid

    Madrid endured a highly frustrating evening as they drew a blank and dropped two precious points against unfancied Levante. Mourinho’s side are predictably strong in defence, having conceded only one goal in their five league games as they remain unbeaten.

    Unfortunately for Los Blancos, things are slightly less impressive at the attacking end of the field, as Madrid failed to score for the second time in their three away games this season. This failure is even more embarrassing when you consider that Levante had the leakiest defence in La Liga coming into this match having conceded 10 goals in their first four games.

    Gonzalo Higuain was most guilty of being wasteful in front of goal, with the young striker’s record of only one goal in five La Liga games so far a slight concern. His starting place may well come under pressure from Karim Benzema in the coming weeks.

    Madrid will surely view this as two points dropped rather than one gained, particularly with most of their rivals picking up three points. The result sees them fall behind Valencia and Barcelona at the top of La Liga and they now sit on 11 points after five games.

    An unexpected point will be seen as a bonus by Levante, who look to have turned the corner with four points and two clean sheets from their last two games. This is an encouraging turnaround for a side who had lost their first three games, conceding ten goals in the process, and they move into 18th place with four points.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Athletic Bilbao 1 – 3 Barcelona

    Barcelona left the Basque region with all three points after a tricky encounter with Bilbao amidst torrential rain. It took the champions until the 55th minute to make the breakthrough, with the biggest moment of the first half coming when Bilbao defender Fernando Amorebietta was dismissed for a rash challenge on Andres Iniesta in the 34th minute.

    Barca made their numerical advantage count in the second half, with a clever passing move ending with David Villa setting up midfielder Seydou Keita to open the scoring with a calm finish under goalkeeper Gorka Iralzoz. The visitors went from strength to strength after the first goal and doubled their advantage in the 74th minute through a 20 yard effort from Xavi, albeit it with the help of a deflection which wrong-footed Iralzoz.

    Just as it looked set to be a perfect evening for Barca, a moment of madness from Villa took the shine off the victory. Villa, unhappy with the physical attention he was receiving, threw an arm at a Bilbao player and was rightly dismissed.

    Bilbao were given a glimmer of hope soon after when Igor Gabilondo slotted home from close range to pull the score back to 2-1. Barca weren’t finished however, with Pedro’s fine run and pass setting up the advancing Sergio Busquets to blast home for only the second La Liga goal of his career, both of which have come against Bilbao.

    The 3-1 result was probably a fair reflection of the game and Barca will be greatly pleased to earn a victory against a talented Bilbao side and a hostile home crowd. The win takes Barca to 12 points, just behind leaders Valencia, while Bilbao find themselves in 9th place on seven points.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Deportivo La Coruna 0 – 2 Almeria

    Deportivo’s disastrous start to the season continued as they went down 2-0 at home to Almeria. The visitors scored twice in the first twenty minutes, both goals coming from striker Kalu Uche. The Nigerian’s first goal came after five minutes when he found himself alone in the six yard box to head home from a corner.

    The second goal, after 19 minutes, began in bizarre fashion when a Deportivo clearance hit an Almeria player and looped onto the Deportivo crossbar. Uche was on hand to head home the rebound for his and Almeria’s second of the game.

    Deportivo’s task was made even harder when defender Daniel Colotto was sent off just before half time, and the hosts were unable to fight back in the second half. They now find themselves second bottom on three points and without a win from their first five games, leaving manager Miguel Angel Lotina under increasing pressure.

    Almeria’s victory, their first of the season, sees them leapfrog Depor and move up to 13th place with five points from their five games.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Espanyol 1 – 0 Osasuna

    Espanyol secured their third straight home victory with a 1-0 win over Osasuna thanks to Alvaro Vazquez’ first half goal. The goal came in the 25th minute, shortly after the dismissal of Osasuna’s Lolo for two yellow cards.

    Espanyol striker Vazquez fired home a fine left footed drive from the edge of the box to maintain Espanyol’s 100% home record and move the team into the top six with nine points.

    Osasuna are yet to take a point or score a goal away from home and find themselves in 14th place with only four points.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Mallorca 2 – 0 Real Sociedad

    Mallorca came out on top in this encounter thanks to a brace from Argentine forward Fernando Cavenaghi. The first goal came after only seven minutes as Cavenaghi turned cleverly and curled home from the middle of the box, while the second came just after the hour mark as he turned the ball in from a matter of inches as the ball fell to him after a corner.

    The win is Mallorca’s second of the season and gives them seven points from their five games to move them up to 11th place, while Sociedad are down in 16th with four points.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Racing Santander 0 – 1 Getafe

    Getafe won 1-0 at Racing Santander with an early goal from Victor Sanchez. Sanchez’ goal was slightly fortunate, his clipped effort from the edge of the box hit the outstretched leg of a Racing defender and flew over Antonio Tono in the home goal.

    The rest of the game was an end-to-end affair, with both sides missing a number of good chances and both goalkeepers producing impressive saves, but the home side couldn’t find an equaliser. Things went from bad to worse for Racing as their striker Markus Rosenberg was sent off in the final minute of the game after picking up a second booking.

    They now find themselves in 15th place amongst a number of teams on four points, while Getafe’s victory sees them move into the top half with seven points.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Hercules 2 – 0 Sevilla

    Hercules continued their impressive start to the season with a 2-0 victory over Sevilla, a result which subsequently cost Sevilla boss Antonio Alvarez his job. The victory came courtesy of a first half double from star signing David Trezeguet.

    Sevilla started the game brightly and created a number of openings, but it was Hercules who took the lead in somewhat controversial circumstances with the award of a debatable penalty.

    The penalty came in the 21st minute after Sevilla’s Didier Zokora tangled with Tiago Gomes, with Trezeguet stepping up to coolly slot home after sending Andres Palop the wrong way. Trezeguet doubled his tally in the 37th minute after deflecting in Kiko Femenia’s shot after great work from Royston Drenthe out wide.

    Sevilla had a number of clear chances after Trezeguet’s second goal, coming closest when Romaric’s clever free-kick hit the post and also forcing Hercules goalkeeper Juan Calatayud into several smart stops.

    The win moves Hercules into 8th place with seven points, an impressive haul after five games, particularly as the newly promoted side have already faced Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla at home and had to travel to both Valencia and Barcelona.

    For Sevilla, the start to the season has been slightly less impressive, with only one point from their last two (eminently winnable) games against Racing and Hercules leaving the team off the pace with eight points from their five games.

    These results, on top of crashing out in Champions’ League qualifying  and losing at home to PSG in the Europa League, were simply too much to take for the Sevilla board, who have acted quickly to replace Alvarez with Gregorio Manzano.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Atletico Madrid 1 – 0 Real Zaragoza

    A first half goal from Diego Costa allowed Atletico to return to winning ways with a 1-0 victory at home to Zaragoza. Costa bundled the ball home from close range after a fine run and cross from left back Filipe, an impressive performer in his first start after a big money move from Deportivo this summer.

    Filipe offered great quality down Atletico’s left and came close to doubling Atletico’s lead with a great shot from distance. Less impressive was fellow left sided player Jose Antonio Reyes, who saw red on the hour mark after swinging an arm at Matteo Contini. The last half hour was played out with little incident as Zaragoza struggled to get back into the game despite their man advantage.

    Atletico are now back on track and find themselves just behind the top four with 10 points from their five games, while Zaragoza are rooted to bottom spot with no victories and only two points so far.

La Liga Week 5 Roundup: Valencia & Barca Win Away While Madrid Draw a Blank

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    Malaga 2 – 3 Villarreal

    Villarreal came out on top in this five goal thriller against Malaga at La Rosaleda, thanks in large part to two goals from Santi Cazorla. All five goals came in an astonishing first half that also featured a red card for Malaga’s Eliseu.

    It was Eliseu who scored the game’s opening goal after four minutes with a superb long range blast, but Villarreal hit back with goals from Cazorla and Guiseppe Rossi in the 21st and 24th minutes respectively. Cazorla’s goal came from a curling effort which took a heavy deflection off Malaga’s Antonio Apono, while Rossi exchanged passes with strike partner Nilmar before slotting home to put the visitors ahead.

    Not to be outdone, Malaga equalised soon after as Quincy swung in a delightful cross that was headed home by Salomon Rondon to level affairs. Amazingly, Cazorla scored again soon after with a fine finish after a clever passing move; this 33rd minute goal was the fourth of a manic 12 minute spell that left Villarreal 3-2 up.

    An action packed first half ended in ugly fashion as Malaga’s Eliseu was dismissed for a headbutt on Carlos Marchena, although on further examination it appeared Marchena had indulged in a spot of play-acting. The visitors dominated second half proceedings and created numerous chances, but failed to add to their lead. There was one nervy second half moment for Villarreal as Malaga thought they had scored an equaliser, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside and the game ended 3-2.

    After losing their first game, Villarreal have responded with four straight victories to move into 2nd place in La Liga, ahead of Barca on goal difference thanks to the form of Cazorla, Rossi and Nilmar.

    Malaga have certainly been entertaining so far this season, with their 11 goals scored and 11 goals conceded giving them both the best attack and worst defence in La Liga at this point. More importantly than that, the team have six points from their five games and sit in 12th place.