All across Madrid, shouts of profanity were likely heard on Sunday as Villarreal coughed up a two-goal home lead to Barcelona before Lionel Messi climbed into the catbird seat to keep the Blaugranas in the title race with a 3-2 win.
The match was absolutely bananas, with Villarreal going ahead on goals by Cani and Tragueros before a pair of own goals leveled the match in the 78th minute.
But Barca needed all three points to remain in shouting distance of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. The clock struck 80 with Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta standing over a free kick 23 yards out from goal. Here comes the likelihood, right? Not-so-much, as Sergio Asenjo leapt to make an acrobatic save. A corner went to nothing.
And then came Messi, as expected. The Argentine picked up a beautiful headed pass from Cesc Fabregas and was one-on-one with Asenjo. Was it going to go down any other way? His 27th La Liga goal of the season, in 28 matches, made it 3-2 in the 83rd minute.
A Barca foul on the edge of the box came very close to penalty kick territory, but a free kick was awarded that Villarreal could not convert. It remained and ended 3-2.
The game began with a moment of silence for Tito Vilanova, who passed away late last week after a battle with cancer.
Yet it could all be for nought, because Atletico got a goal from Raul Garcia to beat a very game Valencia side on the road, while Cristiano Ronaldo kept Real very much a threat with a brace in a 4-0 thrashing of Osasuna at the Bernabeu.
So it isn’t a two-horse race, and the season’s final match between Atletico and Barca in a few weeks will likely carry significance for all three massive clubs. And with the two Madrid clubs still competing in the UEFA Champions League, surely Barca fans are starting to like their odds just a little bit.
- Elche 1-1 Levante – Richmond Boakye helps get a huge point for the hosts in the race for survival, though three points were the hope until Angel’s equalizer in the 74th.
- Granada 0-3 Rayo Vallecano — It wasn’t long ago that Vallecano looked destined for relegation, and now they’re dusting off opponents left and right.
- Getafe 1-0 Malaga — The hosts are momentarily safe, officially sending Betis down thanks to a 7th minute Adrian Colunga goal.
- Betis 0-1 Real Sociedad — It’s academic for relegated Betis, and Carlos Vela’s 48th minute penalty ensured a home loss.
- Espanyol 1-2 Almeria — Two late goals lift the visitors hopes for survival, but they are still two points back of safety.
- Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Sevilla — Another goal from Kevin Gameiro wasn’t enough as Athletic surged into control of the fourth slot.
- Celta Vigo vs. Valladolid – Monday