La Liga: Real Madrid beat Alaves late to leapfrog Barca (for now)
A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…
[ PL PREVIEW: Arsenal’s post-Emery era begins; Man United host Villa ]
Alaves 1-2 Real Madrid
Without ever hitting their full stride through the season’s first 14 games, Real Madrid have managed to keep pace with Barcelona to set up what should be a thrilling La Liga title race over the next 24 weeks. Zinedine Zidane’s side survived yet another scare on Saturday and came away with a narrow victory away to 14th-place Alaves. With Barca still to play Atletico Madrid on Sunday, Real Madrid sit atop the table with a three-point advantage.
Sergio Ramos headed Los Blancos into the lead in the 52nd minute, but it was quickly erased when Lucas Perez converted from the penalty spot in the 65th.
Madrid’s winner was anything but pretty, but the ball crossed the goal line and that’s the only fact that matters. Luka Modric lofted the ball high into the penalty area and Isco got his head to it barely a yard off the goal line, but Fernando Pacheco made a stellar save only to see the ball roll across the face of goal to Dani Carvajal, who poked it over the line for 2-1 in the 69th minute.
Valencia 2-1 Villarreal
Speaking of surviving, Valencia survived a chaotic derby affair with Villarreal at the Mestalla Stadium to climb back into the top-six.
Jasper Cillessen denied Gerard Moreno from the penalty spot in the 14th minute, but that was just the start of a truly wild affair. Sergio Asenjo made a series of spectacular saves to maintain Villarreal’s clean sheet in the first half. His magic ran out shortly after halftime, though, and in hard-to-swallow fashion. Maxi Gomez played an otherworldly curling ball over the top to find Rodrigo Moreno inside the penalty area, and Moreno got the slightest of touches on the ball and managed to recover the ball on the other side of Asenjo for a quick finish from a tight angle.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who’s on loan from Fulham after the player and club’s disastrous lone season in the Premier League, hammered home from near the penalty spot just five minutes later. 19-year-old Ferran Torres bagged the winner in the 70th minute, rifling a waist-high bouncing ball past Asenjo for his second league goal this season.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Real Sociedad 4-1 Eibar
Mallorca 1-2 Real Betis
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Sevilla v. Leganes — 6 a.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao v. Granada — 8 a.m. ET
Espanyol v. Osasuna — 10 a.m. ET
Getafe v. Levante — 12:30 p.m. ET
Atletico Madrid v. Barcelona — 3 p.m. ET