Seven La Liga sides were in European action this week with five of them picking up valuable wins in both the Champions League and Europa League. There were no draws between the teams from Spain and anyone else, sadly for Real Madrid who lost to Borussia Dortmund, but one game almost shocked the football world which had remained level up until the dying seconds.
Barcelona’s narrow victory over Celtic very nearly had the Nou Camp raging but a 94th minute goal from Jordi Alba ensured there were no surprises. Scottish champions Celtic had held firm valiantly for an age, and had even taken the lead through Giorgios Samaras, but Barca’s quality eventually shone through.
Andres Iniesta equalised just before half time and many expected the Spanish side to romp home and score a goal for each member of the crowd after the break. Not so however; Celtic performed heroically – goalkeeper Fraser Forster especially, proving why he was selected in Roy Hodgson’s latest England squad, who made a string of world class saves from Messi and co. David Villa struck the post late on as it looked as though Celtic would record a historic result but Alba’s final minute tap-in made sure of the win and broke many wee Glaswegian hearts.
Real Madrid’s Champions League week transpired in a very different manner however as they suffered a damaging defeat to Borussia Dortmund in what some consider to be the toughest group. Robert Lewandowski scored first for the Bundesliga side but Cristiano Ronaldo equalised minutes later. It took until the 64th minute for the next goal – which proved to be the winner – as Marcel Schmelzer grabbed a rare goal. The 2-1 defeat did not please Jose Mourinho as his side were outplayed by the exciting Germans for large periods of the game.
Elsewhere in the Champions League, a Roberto Soldado hat-trick ensured Valencia recorded their second win in a row as they beat BATE Borisov of Belarus 3-0. His first came from the penalty spot in first half stoppage time but after 69 minutes he had scored a treble to put his difficult form in the league behind him.
Malaga, in Champions League action for the first time this season, made it three wins from three as a Joaquin strike was enough to see off AC Milan at La Rosadela. The winger had earlier missed a penalty but made amends for his miss from 12 yards later on in the game.
Atletico Madrid kept up their stunning form as they beat Portuguese side Academia at a sparse Vicente Calderon. Diego Costa scored and Emre struck a mirror image of the free-kick Falcao scored last week against Real Sociedad to give Madrid a 2-0 advantage. Academia pulled back a consolation with 5 minutes remaining but it was too late for a leveller.
Levante, also in their maiden European season, impressed as they thrashed Steve McClaren’s FC Twente 3-0 in Valencia. Michel opened the scoring with a penalty before Pedro Rios scored a late brace to give the result a polished look. Sadly Athletic Bilbao don’t look likely to repeat their glorious run to the final of the competition this year as they sit bottom with a sole point after a disappointing defeat to Lyon. Lisandro Lopez gave Lyon the lead before substitute Fernando Llorente equalised for the Basque club. Jimmy Briand hit a winner for the French side in the final minutes to condemn Bilbao to a harrowing defeat. Perhaps a focus on league form this season is necessary.
Hop on the bus, bus bingo sites, the thrill of the game at the tip of your hands.
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