La Liga Highlights Week 28
Arturo Vidal kept Barcelona top of the table with a 2nd-minute header. Juanjo Martin/EPA.

Barcelona kept their place atop La Liga’s pyramid in Week 28 after Spanish football resumed following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, temporarily extending their lead to five points with a 4-0 win at Mallorca.

Real Madrid cut the gap back down to two points after they sent Eibar packing with a 3-1 win at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, the club’s Castilla base where they will play their remaining home games this season. Atlético Madrid and Real Sociedad were each disappointed to record 1-1 draws against Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna, respectively.

Sevilla were confident 2-0 victors over Real Betis on Thursday when the Seville derby reopened La Liga with the first fixture to be played in more than three months. Julen Lopetegui’s men are still a distance behind Real but remain third and on course for UEFA Champions League qualification.

Getafe didn't fare as well in their return after losing 2-1 at Granada. Bottom-of-the-table Espanyol also made a triumphant comeback at home and beat Alaves 2-0 to move within four points of safety.

Villarreal and Real Valladolid each picked up three points on the road, meanwhile, after travelling to Celta Vigo and Leganes, respectively.

Mallorca 0-4 Barcelona

Sixty-three seconds. Barely one minute was all it took for Barcelona to get back on a competitive scoresheet after three months off the field, with Arturo Vidal’s diving header an emphatic way for the leaders to restate their intent on seeing out the season unimpeded.

Lionel Messi assisted Martin Braithwaite for his first Barcelona goal before teeing up Jordi Alba late on and adding his own name to the goal tally in injury.

The match highlights illustrate that a four-goal gulf was flattering towards Quique Setien’s side, but Mallorca nevertheless lose on their return to La Liga and stay one point adrift of safety.

Real Madrid 3-1 Eibar

Los Blancos resumed the league campaign on their B team’s ground, but a first-rate performance saw Zinedine Zidane’s men race into a 3-0 lead by half-time.

Toni Kroos sent Real in front with an arcing effort into the far corner in less than four minutes, with defenders Sergio Ramos and Marcelo joining him on the scoresheet by the 37-minute mark.

Eibar gave an improved show in the second period and saw Pedro Bigas grab a consolation via some shaky Thibaut Courtois goalkeeping, but the three points deservedly ended up with the hosts on return.

Zidane was content with his side’s comeback efforts, though he said the knock suffered by Eden Hazard after an impressive showing was a concern, via AFP’s Tom Allnutt:

Sevilla 2-0 Real Betis

Lucas Ocampos extended his goal streak to five consecutive league matches as Sevilla got the better of derby rivals Betis on Thursday, scoring the first goal in La Liga since play was suspended in March.

The Argentinian was in supreme form before the break and ensured the headlining fixture lived up to the hype, scoring from the 12-yard spot before assisting Fernando for a settling strike minutes later:

Sevilla’s Champions League hopes are alive and well after they extended their unbeaten run to five games, while Betis sit 13th and aren’t yet sure of their top-flight future having won one of their last eight.

Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Two goals in two minutes told the tale of Atletico’s 1-1 draw at San Mames on Sunday when Diego Costa scored for the first time since October to cancel out Iker Muniain’s opening strike.

Costa dedicated his goal to Atletico Madrid Femenino star Virgina Toerrecilla, who is currently recovering from a brain tumour following surgery:

Diego Simeone’s side pressed hard for a winner in the second half and drew a terrific save out of Unai Simon, with Athletic perhaps more relieved to take a share of the spoils.

Atletico Madrid missed their opportunity to move back into La Liga’s top four and stay sixth having drawn their last three in a row.

Real Sociedad 1-1 Osasuna

Sociedad also dropped points on Sunday but nevertheless take fourth place outright following Mikel Oyarzabal’s equalising effort at home to Osasuna.

Adrian Lopez’s penalty was his maiden strike for Osasuna and his first in La Liga since April 2018. Oyarzabal cancelled out that strike with a cool finish on the hour mark, but the Basque hosts failed to make it a victorious return despite a much-improved second half display.

Valencia 1-1 Levante

Late drama saw the two teams settled for one point apiece in Friday’s Valencia derby, where a 98th-minute Levante penalty spoiled Los Che’s party in their hunt for European qualification.

Levante looked lost after Rodrigo Moreno broke the deadlock with one minute of normal time to go, not long after striker Roger Marti was sent off. However, Gonzalo Molero stepped up to dispatch a dramatic equaliser at the death after Mouctar Diakhaby pulled Ruben Vezo down in the box with seconds remaining.

Granada 2-1 Getafe

Fireworks flew at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes where Granada overturned a deficit late on to beat Getafe 2-1, with discipline falling by the wayside as 10 yellow cards were dished out in total.

The Madrid visitors led for 50 minutes following David Timor’s breakthrough, but Sevilla loanee Carlos Fernandez forced two goals—the first of which was attributed as a Djene own-goal—to turn the match on its head:

Granada are now unbeaten in five league matches under Diego Martinez and remain ninth—on course for their best La Liga finish since 1974—while Getafe could rue the missed chance to go fourth.

Celta Vigo 0-1 Villarreal

Celta Vigo were unbeaten in six home games before Villarreal—without a win in three away fixtures—struck late to leave with an unlikely 1-0 victory at Balaidos on Saturday.

Ten-year veteran Manu Trigueros came on and made the difference after the guests controlled the match for large portions, missing a series of glaring chances in the first period.

Villarreal are within sight of the European places after Atletico and Valencia dropped points in Week 28, while Celta remain at risk of slipping into the relegation spots.

Espanyol 2-0 Alaves

The pressures of Espanyol’s return to play were eased after Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco saw red just 19 minutes into their clash at the RCDE Stadium on Saturday, per the Spanish Football Podcast:

Adrian Embarba teed up Bernardo Espinosa to break the deadlock on the stroke of half-time, collecting a second assist to Wu Lei shortly after the restart for Espanyol to notch their first win since February 9.

Leganes 1-2 Real Valladolid

Valladolid have collected as many points on the road this season as they have in their own backyard (16), beating Leganes 2-1 on Saturday to make a significant move away from the bottom three.

Chidozie Awaziem gifted Enes Unal the opener with less than two minutes on the board, and midfielder Ruben Alcaraz added a second after the break to boost their cushion.

Oscar Rodriguez halved the deficit from the penalty spot in the 84th with Leganes’ second (and last) shot on target, leaving the capital club languishing in 19th.