MADRID (Xinhua) – FC Barcelona and Real Madrid reach the halfway point of the season in Spain’s Liga Santander neck and neck at the top of the table after this weekend’s matches.
Chinese striker Wu Lei denied Barcelona three points from their short trip to place local rivals Espanyol in Cornella-El Prat.
Wu Lei fired home from the edge of the Barca area in the 88th minute when it looked as if the league leaders were set for the win after goals from the impressive Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal had overturned David Lopez’s opening header for Espanyol.
It was a positive start for Abelardo Fernandez in the Espanyol dugout, but Barca boss Ernesto Valverde will be annoyed at Frenkie de Jong’s error which left his side with 10 men for the last quarter of an hour.
Real Madrid didn’t produce much attractive football in their visit to play Getafe, but defender Raphael Varane and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois were vital as they claimed a 3-0 win.
While Courtois saved everything Getafe threw at Real Madrid, Varane scored Madrid’s first two goals – the first after a bad error from home keeper David Soria and Luka Modric gave the win an extra sheen with Madrid’s last goal deep into injury time
Atletico Madrid moved into third place, five points behind Barca and Real Madrid after their 2-1 win at home to Levante, although Diego Simeone’s men have goalkeeper Jan Oblak to thank for a flying save to deny Enis Bardhi’s header in the last minute of extra time.
All the goals came in the first 18 minutes with Angel Correa opened the scoring for Atletico in the 13th minute, only for Roger Marti to equalize for the visitors three minutes later with his ninth goal of the season.
Felipe Monteiro scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the 18th minute, after which Atletico were quite happy to defend their lead
Sevilla dropped to fourth after being held 1-1 at home by Athletic Club Bilbao. The visitors opened the scoring through Ander Capa in the first half, but Unai Nunez’s own goal on the hour saw the spoils shared.
Valencia continue to climb the table and moved into sixth place thanks to Maxi Gomez’s 27th minute header, which gave them a 1-0 win at home to Eibar and the visitors ended with 10 men after defender Paulo Oliveira was sent off after seeing a second yellow card in injury time
Real Sociedad missed the chance to strengthen their position in fifth when they lost 2-1 at home to Villarreal, who fought back from Willian Jose’s opener for the home side, with a Manu Trigueros penalty in the 58th minute and a left foot shot from Santi Cazorla, which was finally given after a long consultation with the VAR.
Alaves and Betis shared the points with Emerson’s second half header cancelling out Aleix Vidal’s first half opener for the home side. Betis had to cling on in the closing minutes after defender Zou Feddal was sent off for a professional foul on Alaves striker Lucas Perez and Joaquin also had a penalty saved by Alaves keeper Fernando Pacheco.
Meanwhile Angel Montoro’s 24th minute goal was enough to give Granada all three points at home to struggling Mallorca.