Tight wins for both Real Madrid and Barcelona ensured the gap between the two giants of Spanish soccer remained at six points in La Liga table this weekend
To the disgust of the normally mild-mannered Carlo Ancelotti, third-placed Real let a commanding three-goal lead slip to one in just two minutes at 19th-placed neighbor Rayo Vallecano on Saturday night.
Cristiano Ronaldo had put the visitor ahead on three minutes before Karim Benzema headed in Gareth Bale’s cross to make it two just after the half-hour mark. And it was the Welshman who again squared the ball for Ronaldo to net his second after the restart.
Now this is not a coincidence. We have to change our attitude”
But two penalties given away by Pepe and Marcelo in quick succession allowed Jonathan Viera to bring Rayo right back into the game and Real found itself lucky to cling on for the 2-3 win.
It was the second time in three days that Ancelotti’s team had allowed a side back into the match after going up 3-0 following Wednesday’s eventual 7-3 victory over Sevilla. “Now this is not a coincidence,” said the Italian coach. “We have to change our attitude, leave behind the superficiality that from time to time we have on the pitch.
“In the first half we controlled the match well defensively and we scored two fantastic goals on the counterattack. Once in a while it’s advisable to read the match and play on the counter. [...] In the first half we did it well. The second half was a disaster.”
Barcelona also raised a couple of question marks with its performance in the Catalan derby against Espanyol on Friday evening. Despite extending its unbeaten Liga run under coach Gerardo Martino to 12 games with a 1-0 win, the league leader struggled to turn its control of the game to decisive effect, with the winner finally coming on 68 minutes as Neymar drilled the ball through the legs of two Espanyol defenders for Alexis Sánchez to divert in at the far post.
Elsewhere, on Saturday the improving Real Sociedad warmed up for Tuesday’s visit of Manchester United in the Champions League with an impressive 5-0 demolition of Osasuna, while endangered Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic bided a bit more time for himself with a 0-1 win away at Getafe.
Other results: At. Madrid 2-0 Athletic; Levante 0-1 Granada; Almería 1-0 Valladolid; Sevilla 0-1 Celta.