Barca extend unbeaten run


Goals from Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique saw Barcelona come from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 at the Nou Camp and equal a Spanish record of 34 games without defeat in all competitions.

The visitors took the lead through Vitolo’s volley but a superb free-kick from Messi levelled the scores on the half-hour mark, and the Argentinian then laid on a pass for Pique to put the Catalans in charge early in the second half.

Although Sevilla continued to cause Barca problems, they held on to stay eight points ahead of Atletico Madrid at the top of the Primera Division as well as drawing level with the unbeaten record set by Leo Beenhakker’s Real Madrid side in 1989.

Gary Neville’s four-game winning streak with Valencia came to an abrupt end with a 3-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao following seven frantic minutes late in the second half.

Sabin Merino broke the deadlock in a tense and even game on 73 minutes and Iker Muniain and former Valencia striker Aritz Aduriz added to the visitors’ lead in quick succession.

Neville, who called the referee a “joke” after the match for waving away two penalty appeals from Valencia, had seen his side beat Espanyol and Granada in the league and enjoyed back-to-back victories over Rapid Vienna in the Europa League but the late onslaught was too much to overcome.

Jose Gonzalez made an immediate impact as Granada coach as his side lifted themselves off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Former Albacete and Cordoba boss Gonzalez took over the reins on Monday night following the sacking of Jose Ramon Sandoval.

Sandoval was dismissed following a run of four successive defeats and eight losses in nine games, but Gonzalez enjoyed instant success as Youssef El-Arabi’s first-half penalty earned Granada victory at the Riazor.

That win saw Granada leap-frog above Levante, who were beaten 3-0 by local rivals Villarreal earlier in the day.

Goals from Leo Baptistao, Samuel Castillejo and Adrian Lopez earned the points for Villarreal, with Levante losing David Navarro to a red card just before the hour mark.

On Saturday, Zinedine Zidane suffered his first defeat as Real Madrid coach as Antoine Griezmann gave local rivals Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory at the Bernabeu.

The Frenchman struck in the 53rd minute to inflict a fourth league derby defeat in six games on the Merengues, who have not managed to beat their local rivals in the Primera Division since 2013.

Atletico were just about worthy winners of a typically tense and tight derby, although Real felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the second half for a trip by Atleti captain Gabi on Danilo.

Nolito scored his first goal in almost three months to give Celta Vigo a barely deserved 1-0 victory at Getafe.

The Madrid outfit spurned a series of goalscoring chances in either half but the Spain international came off the bench after the break to grab the three points for his side, turning the ball in from close range on 71 minutes.

Imanol Agirretxe stepped off the bench to rescue Real Sociedad with a late equaliser in a 1-1 home draw against Malaga.

Striker Agirretxe, a 74th-minute replacement for Bruma, applied a thumping finish to a knockdown following a late free-kick to cancel out Duje Cop’s second-half opener for Malaga.

Manucho fired a second-half double as Rayo Vallecano fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Real Betis.

The Angola international, a half-time substitute, struck twice within six minutes of the second half to cancel out Ruben Castro’s first-half brace for Real Betis as Rayo extended their unbeaten league run to seven matches.

Betis almost snatched it in stoppage time when midfielder Dani Ceballos’ shot hit a post, but the visitors were worthy of a point.

Espanyol eased their relegation fears by coming from behind to beat fellow strugglers Sporting Gijon 4-2 and record two consecutive league victories for the first time since September.

The Catalans move four points clear of Sporting thanks to the victory while the Asturians still occupy the final relegation spot, missing out on a chance to exit the bottom three.

Carlos Castro’s effort gave the hosts the lead on 19 minutes but Espanyol winger Burgui scored a spectacular individual goal to level the scores before the break.

Gerard Moreno then struck twice in the space of 10 minutes in to give the Catalans the lead and then a two-goal cushion early in the second half.

Castro netted again for the hosts to set up an exciting finish to an already thrilling game, only for Sporting defender Luis Hernandez to turn the ball into his own net on 80 minutes to ensure Espanyol took all three points.

Sporting’s frustration at conceding again was then displayed by an aggressive tackle by substitute Nacho Cases on Espanyol’s talented winger Marco Asensio, and the midfielder was deservedly sent off less than 10 minutes after coming on.

Pedro Bigas’ first-half winner boosted Las Palmas‘ hopes of survival as they recorded a 1-0 victory at Eibar on Friday night.

Bigas struck in first-half injury time to snap a run of three straight losses and move his team level with third-bottom Sporting Gijon on 24 points.



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