Madrid, May 22 (IANS) Real Madrid endured another setback this week, succumbing to a 1-0 defeat away to Valencia.
Thanks to a first-half goal from young striker Diego Lopez, Valencia practically ensured their continued place in the top-flight, reports Xinhua.
Lopez struck just past the half-hour mark, capitalizing on a mishit shot from Justin Kluivert. This ultimately awarded his team all three points against a significantly changed Madrid lineup, a stark contrast from the one that suffered a 4-0 defeat to Manchester City in Wednesday’s Champions League match.
Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili showcased a series of exceptional saves to clinch the victory.
However, the match will also be memorable for off-field incidents. Madrid winger Vinicius Jr was provoked into an angry reaction following a racist insult from a fan in the stands and had to be placated by both rivals and teammates.
In the 96th minute, Vinicius Jr was shown a direct red card for his involvement in an on-field altercation, during which he retaliated against Valencia striker Hugo Duro. Duro was fortunate to avoid punishment after grabbing the forward around the neck.
Real Madrid’s loss enabled Atletico Madrid to reclaim second place, following a comfortable 3-0 home win against Osasuna. Goals from Yannick Carrasco, Saul Niguez and Angel Correa facilitated their victory.
In a characteristically intense Seville derby, Sevilla and Betis played out a goalless draw. Betis concluded the match with 10 players, after Joan Miranda was dismissed in the closing minutes for a reckless challenge on Jesus Navas. Despite participating in the Europa League on Thursday, Sevilla dominated the encounter, with Betis failing to land a single shot on target.
On Saturday, Real Sociedad dampened Barca’s title celebrations, taking a significant stride towards securing fourth place in La Liga with a 2-1 victory at Camp Nou.
Mikel Merino put the visitors ahead in the fifth minute, following a commendable assist from Martin Zubimendi. Zubimendi then set up Alexander Sorloth to extend the lead with 20 minutes remaining. As Camp Nou echoed with “Messi, Messi” chants, Robert Lewandowski salvaged a consolation goal for Barca in the dying moments.
This victory marked Real Sociedad’s fourth triumph at Camp Nou in their history. Interestingly, three of these wins occurred after Barca had already clinched the title. The win keeps La Real five points ahead of Villarreal, who celebrated a 2-1 victory against Girona, inspired by the fleet-footed forward, Nicolas Jackson.
Jackson, the Senegalese forward, utilised his pace to assist Yeremy Pino’s ninth-minute goal. Although David Garcia equalized for Girona before the half-time whistle, another sprint from Jackson in the 93rd minute enabled him to cross the ball to Gerard Moreno, who volleyed the winning goal into an open net.
Goals from Inaki Williams and Alexa Berenguer propelled Athletic Bilbao into seventh place above Girona. The Basque team put an end to a streak of five games without a victory, defeating Celta Vigo at home, who briefly equalized through Jorgen Strand Larsen’s header.
The relegation battle remains fierce, but Cadiz and Almeria made progress towards safety. Theo Bongonda scored twice in the second half, securing Cadiz a 2-0 home victory against Valladolid. The latter now find themselves in the bottom three after five consecutive losses.
Lazaro Vinicius Marques earned a hat-trick for Almeria in their 3-0 home win against Mallorca, pushing them four points clear of the bottom three with only three matches remaining.
Getafe climbed above Valladolid, but a 1-1 home draw with already-relegated Elche left them wanting more. Munir El Haddadi put Getafe ahead in the eighth minute, but Lucas Boye levelled during first-half injury time for a team that has shown improvement since its fate was sealed weeks ago.
Espanyol also garnered three vital points, with a surprising 2-1 away win against Rayo Vallecano in a thrilling match. Sergi Darder spearheaded Espanyol’s victory, scoring in the 22nd minute. Despite former Espanyol striker Raul de Tomas equalising with a penalty, Nicolas Melamed netted a winning goal in the second half. This victory leaves Espanyol just a point behind Valladolid and Getafe.