Real Madrid move eight points clear, VAR helps Barca to controversial win
Madrid, March 7 (IANS): Real Madrid ended the 27th round of games in La Liga with an eight-point lead over second-placed Sevilla after beating Real Sociedad 4-1, while Sevilla were held away to Alaves.
Real Madrid warmed up for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain with an easy win despite falling behind to Mikel Oyarzabal’s 10th-minute penalty. That was Real Sociedad’s only shot in the game as Real Madrid controlled the ball and turned the game around in five minutes before half-time, with Eduardo Camavinga’s 30-yard shot and an impressive finish from Luka Modric.
Karim Benzema’s 76th-minute penalty made it 3-1 and Marco Asensio added a fourth three minutes later to secure an easy win.
Sevilla, meanwhile, failed to create enough chances to win away to struggling Alaves in a goalless draw that helps neither side, Xinhua reports. FC Barcelona move third after they came back from a goal down away to Elche to claim a 2-1 win that was accompanied by plenty of controversy.
Fidel put Elche ahead on the stroke of half-time and the home side deserved their lead after an impressive first 45 minutes. Barca substitute Ferran Torres equalised from close range just before the hour mark, however, as Elche began to sit deeper to defend their advantage.
Memphis Depay scored the winning goal from the penalty spot with seven minutes left to play after Antonio Barragan was harshly adjudged to have handled by VAR.
Elche were further angered when VAR failed to give them a penalty after the ball hit Jordi Alba’s hand following a corner and substitute Javier Pastore was sent off for his protests from the bench.
Atletico Madrid are now fourth after Joao Felix netted twice in their 3-1 win away to Real Betis. The Portuguese forward netted in the first minute, and although Cristian Tello equalised in a first half that saw Sime Vrsaljko, Angel Correa and Andres Guardado all go off injured, Felix’s second of the match after 60 minutes put Atletico back in front and Thomas Lemar assured the win with 10 minutes left to play.
Chimy Avila’s 62nd-minute header saw Osasuna to a 1-0 win at home to Villarreal and ended the visitors’ impressive recent run of results.
Espanyol returned to winning ways with a 2-0 win at home to Getafe thanks to Leandro Cabreras’s powerful 18th-minute header and an unfortunate own goal from Erick Cabaco, who saw David Soria’s punched clearance bounced off him into the net
Iago Aspas’ 97th-minute penalty gave Celta Vigo a thrilling 4-3 win at home to Real Mallorca, who thought they had taken a point after Salva Sevilla had drawn them level from the penalty spot in the 87th minute.
Aspas scored twice for Celta, along with Thiago Galhardo and Denis Suarez, while Sevilla, Giovanni Gonzalez, and an own goal netted for the visitors.
Second-half goals from Ruben Alcaraz and Oussama Idrissi (the second after a bad error from Luca Zidane), gave Cadiz a vital first home win of the season as they defeated Rayo Vallecano 2-0.
The game pitted the teams with the worst home and away records in La Liga, with Cadiz able to take advantage of tiredness among the Rayo players after their Copa del Rey semifinal on Thursday.
Finally, Granada sacked coach Robert Moreno after a 3-1 defeat in Valencia, who had three second-half goals in 17 minutes from Goncalo Guedes, Maxi Gomez and a Carlos Soler penalty.