Madrid, Feb 9 (IANS) The top of La Liga got a bit tighter when leaders Atletico Madrid slipped to a shock 0-2 defeat away to Almeria allowing Real Madrid to climb above them.
It has been a bad week for Atletico who were beaten 0-3 by Real Madrid, who in turn will be knocked off the top if FC Barcelona win away to Sevilla Sunday, reports Xinhua.
Surprisingly, Atletico have never won in Almeria and Saturday they were without first choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and his replacement Dani Aranzubia had a difficult night as he was beaten by a cross from Verza with 11 minutes remaining.
The keeper was then sent off for committing a penalty after an ill-judged decision to try and dribble the ball round Almeria striker Zongo and Verza fired home Almeria’s second with Atletico midfielder Gabi Fernandez in goal.
Real Madrid move level on points and ahead of their neighbours on goal difference courtesy a 4-2 victory at home to Villarreal, despite the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fit again Gareth Bale opened the scoring after a defensive mistake and then set up Karim Benzema to make it 2-0 with an instinctive finish after 24 minutes. Mario Gaspar’s thumping drive just before halftime got Villarreal back into the game but Jese Rodriguez’s goal after 63 minutes again put his side two goals ahead.
Geovani Dos Santos then scored a magnificent free kick to keep Villarreal into the game but Benzema’s second made the result safe for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Valencia took a big step forward thanks to a 5-0 thrashing of hapless Betis, who remain bottom of the table with just 14 points from 23 games. It was an even match until the 41st minute when goals from Jeremy Mattieu and Paco Alcacaer totally changed the game. Sophaine Feghouli, Alcazar and Javi Vargas added goals after the break as Betis fell apart.
Rayo Vallecano took a morale boosting win in their fight to avoid the drop as they defeated Malaga 4-1 thanks partly to Iago Falque although the fact Malaga had to play half of the game with a man less after Sergio Sanchez was sent off did little to help the visitors cause.