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In the first game of Week 22, Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 away at Racing Santander. Thereafter Barcelona were stunned by Osasuna in a 3-2 loss at Pamplona which brought about fireworks in the city later. Saturday’s action was rounded up as a late strike from Nelson resulted in a 2-1 victory for Real Betis at home to a lackluster Athletic Bilbao.
Racing Santander 0-0 Atletico Madrid
This is the second consecutive 0-0 draw for Diego Simeone’s side after they drew at home to Valencia last week. While the Rojiblancos had plenty of chances, they were either unlucky or found an inspired Antonio Rodriguez in the Racing goal.
While the first half was mostly uneventful, Adrian Lopez’s effort straight at the keeper at the stroke of half time was probably the only possible scoring opportunity for either sides. There were plenty of chances for Atletico Madrid in the second half.
Toño Martinez was kept busy for longer spells in the second half. He made some fantastic saves to deny Falcao and Diego with both of them hitting the woodwork as well. Felipe Luis was also denied by Toño to lift Racing out of the relegation zone with Villarreal taking the spot as the “Yellow Submarine” are in action on Sunday versus fellow relegation battlers – Granada.
Osasuna 3-2 FC Barcelona (Dejan Lekic x2, Raul Garcia | Alexis Sanchez, Tello)
The shocker of the day came at Pamplona as Osasuna pushing for Europe beat second placed FC Barcelona 3-2 at home. Dejan Lekic scored the first two goals of the game to put Osasuna 2-0 up before the half hour mark.
Difficult conditions in a frozen pitch along with a slightly unique starting XI proved to be the wrongdoing for defending La Liga champions. Thiago Alcantara, Pedro and Sergi Roberto started ahead of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas.
Serbian international Dejan Lekic scored in the 4th and 22nd minute courtesy to assists from Raul Garcia and Alvaro Cejudo. Barcelona tried to play their usual fluid football but strong defense, difficult conditions and lack of chemistry between the players resulted in nothing as the first half drew to a close. Scoreline read 2-0 in favour of Osasuna and their fans, expectedly, were in dreamland.
Pep Guardiola made two personnel changes at half time as Cuenca and Tello entered the fray with Puyol and Pedro being subbed out.
This proved to do the trick as six minutes into the second half, Cuenca provided the assist for an unmarked Alexis Sanchez to make it 2-1.
Not to be outdone so easily, Osasuna hit back five minutes later. Raul Garcia was first on the end of a Nino cross as he slot past an out of position Victor Valdes and Gerard Pique. 3-1 to Osasuna and a little breathing space was restored.
Tello pulled one more back for Barcelona as he checked his marker and unleashed a ferocious left footer past 2-3 players. 3-2 to Osasuna and an interesting 17 minutes ensued.
Barcelona looked to have equalised through Alexis Sanchez but he was adjudged to have been in an offside position after Messi’s free kick got the deftest of touches from Sergio Roberto. Fabregas came on later and could have scored in the stoppage time but his header was saved by Andres in goal.
With this result, Osasuna have moved on to 7th and more importantly, Real Madrid could extend the lead at the top of the league to ten points if they win at home to Levante.
Real Betis 2-1 Athletic Bilbao (Ruben Castro, Nelson | Javi Martinez)
Athletic lost a glorious opportunity to move into Europen football place in La Liga as the ten men Basques lost out thanks to a stoppage time goal by Nelson to give three points to Real Betis at Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Betis took the lead in the tenth minute through Ruben Castro. His right footed curling shot from the edge of the box was unstoppable for Gorka Iraizoz.
Athletic restored parity as an unmarked Javi Martinez headed in from a Susaeta corner kick.
At the stroke of half time, Betis could have taken a deserved lead but a neat one-two between Montero and Molina inside the box and the shot by the former struck the post and out.
Athletic saw themselves in a difficult position when Javi Martinez was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence for raising his arm in a challenge with Jonathan Pereira.
Right at the death of full time, Nelson scored a cracking volley to give Betis a deserved victory. After the win, Real Betis moved in to 12th to create some distance between themselves and other survival fighters. Athletic, on the other hand, are now 8th and still in touching distance from European spot.