Manuel Queimadelos Alonso
Valencia got a huge win despite being down a man for most of the match. Real Sociedad slipped up against Levante, Atletico Madrid got a much needed win and Espanyol just can't lose.
Real Sociedad slipped up against Levante but held on to sixth place when Rayo Vallecano lost to Real Madrid. Espanyol's rocket up the table continued as they remained unbeaten since a loss to Barcelona in early January. Here's a recap of those games and the rest of the action from La Liga today.
Real Sociedad 1-1 Levante
Sociedad failed to gain a better hold a Europa League place, drawing at home against ninth place Levante. The draw stings even more for Sociedad considering Levante played on Thursday and made seven changes to their lineup. Both side's goals came in the first half off penalties. Soceidad scored first when Levante defender Nikos Karabelas hauled down Carlos Vela inside the box. Vela took the penalty and beat Keylor Navas, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Levante answered back with a penalty of their own in the 29th minute when fullback Christian Lell pushed over by Chory Castro. Michel buried the penalty, evening the match at 1-1. Karabelas, who was booked on the Sociedad penalty, picked up a second yellow card in the 57th minute but the home side were unable to find the winner despite playing over 30 minutes with the man advantage.
Ten men? No problem for Valencia. Los Che lost Tino Costa in the 28th minute but still rolled to a 2-0 victory over Malloca. Costa was shown a straight red card after a bad foul on Jose Nunes. Valencia were cautious for the rest of the half and took advantage of some defensive mistakes in the second half to earn the win.
The first goal came in the 60th minute when Sergio Canales sent a corner in from right side to defender Ricardo Costa, who out jumped the defense and headed the ball past Dudu Aouate. Valencia doubled their lead in the 81st minute when Ricardo Soldado beat Dudu with a low right-footed finish off a pass form Dani Parejo.
The win keeps Valencia in fifth and only two points behind Malaga for a Champions League spot.
Real Valladolid 0-2 Atletico Madrid
Atletico bounced back from two straight disappointing performances last week with a solid 2-0 defeat of Real Valladolid.
Radamel Falcao stakes Atleti to a lead in the 11th minute, finishing off a chance from close range after a post set piece scramble in the box. Diego Costa doubled Atletico's advantage in the 63rd minute, hammering home the ball from the center of the Valladolid box after it was headed down by Koke. Cristian Rodriguez got in on the fun in the 90th minute, scoring from six-yards out.
Espanyol 1-0 Real Betis
An early goal from Sergio Garcia was all Espanyol needed to continue their amazing winning streak and move even further away from the relegation zone. For Real Betis, it's another disappointing performance as they continue to fall down the table.
García did the damage for Espanyol in the 7th minute, taking a headed pass from Christian Stuani and beating Betis goalkeeper Adrián to the bottom left corner.
Espanyol are undefeated in their last six matches, with five wins and one draw since their loss to Barca on January 6th.