La Liga Wrap Up: Celta stun Sevilla and Messi’s penalty woes

Fernando Torres continued his return to form for Atleti, notching a goal and an assist in their 2-0 win over Eibar, Celta Vigo stunned Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan while David Moyes’ struggles with Real Sociedad continued. Mark Houston brings you the La Liga Wrap Up for Matchday Four.

Sevilla had endured a tricky start to their 2015-16 campaign, but a 3-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Champions League eased some of the pressure on Unai Emery’s side and they looked to take that confidence into the weekend. However, they were met with an energetic and uncompromising Celta Vigo who asserted their dominance early in a spectacular first-half display to run out 2-1 winners at the Sanchez Pizjuan, despite a first goal for new Sevilla signing Fernando Llorente.

Had you no knowledge of who was wearing the home kit or which stadium they were in, you would assume that Celta were playing at home, such was the attacking verve of the opening 45 minutes. Pressuring across the full length of the pitch; attacking in numbers; Celta were fast out of the blocks and Sevilla simply couldn’t cope.

Last season’s star man Nolito opened the scoring on 15 minutes in trademark fashion, cutting in from the left-hand side before firing low and hard into the bottom corner, before Daniel Wass latched onto Mallo Novegil’s poke back and smashed it in off the far post to double the advantage on 26 minutes. Nolito’s goal meant that the former Barca product has scored at least one goal in eight of his last 10 La Liga matches.

The introduction of Llorente at half-time gave Sevilla a bit more in the attacking third, and the former Juventus man put them back in with a shout when he headed home from Mariano’s cross nine minutes after coming on. The end-to-end nature of the second-half was exciting, but it stayed 2-1 to Celta who enjoyed the better of the chances – Sevilla ‘keeper Sergio Rico made two fine stops late on – and took home a deserved three points which leaves them unbeaten and not far off pace-setters Barcelona.

Sevilla, meanwhile, are now bottom of the table and still yet to win a game this season.

Nolito celebrates his goal.
Nolito celebrates his goal.

Real Sociedad fought back from 2-1 down with a man down after goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was sent off just before the interval, but Jonathas’ 87th minute equaliser wasn’t enough as Hernan Perez snatched a stoppage-time winner to take the points for Espanyol in a 3-2 win at Anoeta.

While there is certainly a positive in the fact that La Real found the back of the net for the first time this season, David Moyes – like Jagoba Arrasate this time last year – is a man under pressure.

In last week’s Wrap Up I wrote about Fernando Torres returning to form and likened his goal against Barcelona to his Euro 2008 winner. Well the good form continued a few days later in Atletico Madrid‘s 2-0 win over Eibar, which saw the no. 9 assist Angel Correa’s opener, 17 minutes after coming on as a half-time sub, before being played in by Correa and dinking goalkeeper Risego – again in similar fashion to his goal in Austria – to score himself and put the result beyond doubt.

The Atleti youth product looks like a man rejuvenated now that he’s back in Madrid, and after the horrible run of form that followed his departure from Liverpool to Chelsea, it’s great to see from a neutral perspective.

At the Bernabeu, all eyes were on Cristiano Ronaldo after his five-goal haul last weekend and though the Portuguese didn’t trouble the scorers in a frustrating display, he did make headlines as he was accompanied onto the pitch by young refugee Zaid Abdul Mohsen before the match. It was later revealed that Zaid was the son of Osama Abdul Mohsen, the refugee who was kicked by a Hungarian camera-woman while crossing the border, and he and his family have now set up in Getafe.

Karim Benzema grabbed the only goal of the game, making it four in four for the Frenchman, so far living up to the standards set by manager Rafa Benitez of 20-25 goals this season, as Real Madrid struggled to break down a resilient Granada side that were perhaps unlucky to lose. The visitors had a goal controversially ruled out, and replays suggested Isco may have been offside in the build up to Benzema’s winner, before the Spaniard played in a delightful cross. The luck never seems to go the way of the underdogs.

It’s been a tough slog this time around for Valencia, who drew a blank at home to newly-promoted Real Betis which saw Joaquin return to his former club. The 0-0 draw made it three consecutive home matches without victory, a stark contrast to last season where they enjoyed a perfect start to the season at the Mestalla. The fans, who were so vital to the feel-good factor last term, are letting Nuno know that they expect better.

Aritz Aduriz scored again for Athletic Bilbao but his stoppage-time header was little more than consolation in their 3-1 loss to Villarreal. Both sides made a number of changes from their Thursday Europa League matches, with them taking opposite approaches: Athletic playing a stronger side against Augsburg while the Yellow Submarine focused on the league match, naming an almost full-strength side.

The match took a while to get going but Villarreal eventually found the breakthrough from the penalty spot when Bruno slotted home just before half-time. It was a match of few chances, and Athletic responded by bringing on the formidable duo of Aduriz and Raul Garcia, but it was Villarreal who snatched the second goal, going 2-0 up on 66 minutes, and they then grabbed the third to put the game to bed with 10 minutes remaining through Leo Baptistao before Aduriz netted for Athletic before the final whistle.

Leo Messi scored, assisted and, perhaps what has garnered most of the headlines, missed his 15th penalty for Barcelona in their match against Levante. It’s now the sixth penalty he’s missed in his last 12 attempts, and you wonder how many more he needs to miss before handing the duties over to someone like Neymar. Ultimately, it wasn’t decisive, but, like  in 2012 against Chelsea, his misses from 12 yards have cost his side before.

Ignoring Messi for a moment, Levante put in a very impressive and disciplined display. Although the 4-1 scoreline looks like a routine thumping, they managed to hold out the Blaugrana for 50 minutes, which, for a team like Levante, is a positive they can take from the match against the reigning European champions.

In the other matches, Getafe defeated Malaga 1-0, Deportivo La Coruña lost in an entertaining 2-3 with Sporting Gijon, and Las Palmas succumbed 0-1 at home to Rayo Vallecano.

La Liga continues with Matchday Five being played mid-week – with Celta hosting Barca in a match-up between two of the five undefeated sides – running straight into Matchday Six on the weekend.

Results in full: Getafe 1-0 Malaga; Real Madrid 1-0 Granada; Valencia 0-0 Real Betis; Eibar 0-2 Atletico Madrid; Real Sociedad 2-3 Espanyol; Sevilla 1-2 Celta Vigo; Deportivo La Coruña 2-3 Sporting Gijon; Villarreal 3-1 Athletic Bilbao; Barcelona 4-1 Levante; Las Palmas 0-1 Rayo Vallecano.

About Mark Houston 86 Articles
Mark is an editor of The Blog FC and has also contributed to other sport and music sites. He predominantly writes about La Liga but also follows Europe's other top leagues and the local A-League. There's a special place in his heart for bearded deep-lying playmakers and he's a proud member of the Goalkeepers Union.