The weekend action in Spain saw several surprising results across the country’s top flight. League leaders Real Madrid dominated their city rivals in a 3-0 victory at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, now with a four-point lead atop the table.
Barcelona were without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on Saturday and missed a golden opportunity to keep pace in the standings. A 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou was the Blaugrana’s first match at home without scoring a goal in almost two years.
A look at the key moments and players that made up Matchweek 12 in La Liga.
The stellar play of Steven N’Zonzi
Sevilla and manager Jorge Sampaoli were in a difficult situation early on in their match Saturday afternoon at Deportivo de La Coruna. Ryan Babel’s goal in the 1st minute and a second from Florin Andone before half-time setup Los Nervionenses for a tall task to find a result.
But Steven N’Zonzi’s goal in the 44th minute started the road to victory for Sevilla. The French international controlled the middle of the pitch throughout the second half with accurate passing and excellent positioning.
N’Zonzi’s determination and leadership was a key component in Sevilla’s eventual 3-2 victory with two late goals.
Over 80 percent possession and 29 shots were not enough for Barcelona to overcome the outstanding play of Malaga goalkeeper Carlos Kameni on Saturday.
The Cameroonian international had eight saves and was critical in the visitors earning a point on their travels. Malaga manager Juande Ramos deployed a highly defensive formation and a physical approach.
Kameni kept the defence organised and even when Malaga went down to nine men after two second-half red cards, and Los Boquerones were able to see out a significant result.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick
El Derbi Madrileno was expected to be yet another thrilling instalment to one of the best derbies in world football.
Instead, Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance made sure it was a day to forget for the home side in Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory at Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo was in fine form throughout the contest, scoring his first goal in the 23rd minute. Manager Zinedine Zidane utilised a more proactive approach than in recent matches against Atletico.
Diego Simeone’s side can generally prevent much of an opponent’s attack, but the pressure from Los Blancos on Saturday was simply overwhelming.
Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with two goals (71’, 77’) in the second half to seal the victory for the league leaders.
A strong second-half start from La Real
Only nine points earned from 11 league matches thus far for Sporting Gijon gave confidence to Real Sociedad about their visit on Sunday. However, the home side made sure it was not such a formality.
A 1-1 stalemate to begin the second half quickly changed with an intense 45 minutes from the visitors, as Real Sociedad secured a 3-1 victory.
David Zurutuza (51’) and Inigo Martinez (57’) scored two goals in the first 12 minutes of the second half, as Sociedad came out with a more active and energetic approach to the match.
Manager Eusebio Sacristan also made profound tactical changes and late substitutions that contributed to the club’s victory.
Raul Garcia’s goal
Two clubs in the top half of the table battled it out on Sunday evening, as Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal were level at half-time.
Neither club had been able to break down the other’s defence and find the opening goal. Both Bilbao and Villarreal had done a fantastic job of clearing out dangerous scoring opportunities in the first half.
In a tense encounter such as this, sometimes all that is needed is one crucial moment to find a result. Bilbao midfielder Raul Garcia secured just that type of moment in the 68th minute, scoring the match-winner for the home side in a 1-0 victory.
The result moved Athletic up to seventh place in the standings, only two points behind Villarreal in fourth.