La Liga Matchweek 21: Five Crucial Moments

The critical moments in La Liga during Matchweek 21.

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The weather in Spain was one of the main talking points this past weekend, as heavy rain and strong winds in Galicia caused two league matches to be postponed.

Real Betis at Deportivo de La Coruna and Real Madrid at Celta Vigo will be played at later dates.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid took advantage of the opportunity to gain ground in the league table, with the Blaugrana defeating Athletic Bilbao 3-0 and Los Rojiblancos earning a 2-0 victory over Leganes.

We review five key moments that decided results around La Liga during Matchweek 21.

Barca dominate without Suarez

With Copa del Rey commitments to consider, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique needed to select his line-up carefully against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Even without striker Luis Suarez, the attack was extremely effective at the Camp Nou.

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets were also rested, with Arda Turan performing well in the midfield of Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation. The front-line was magnificent for the home side, with Lionel Messi and Paco Alcacer each scoring a goal.

Barcelona are now in second place and are only one point behind Real Madrid, though their El Clasico rivals have two games in-hand.

Soler red card sinks Valencia

After two consecutive league losses, Valencia were keen to earn more a positive result at home against Eibar on Saturday. But after a disastrous performance from Los Che, it was the visitors who came away with a 4-0 victory.

Eibar striker Sergi Enrich opened the scoring in the 28th minute, and just before half-time Valencia midfielder Carlos Soler made a critical mistake defending a corner-kick. A scuffle in the penalty area resulted in a red card and a goal from the spot to double the Basque side’s advantage at 2-0.

Reduced to ten men for the second half, Valencia were unable to get back into the match and gave up two more goals before the final whistle.

A fantastic goal from a Red Devil

In the midst of a relegation battle to avoid the Segunda Division, Granada secured a vital three points on Monday evening in a 1-0 victory against Las Palmas. On loan this season from Manchester United, it was Brazilian youngster Andreas Pereira’s spectacular strike that was the difference.

The 21-year old’s third league goal of the campaign was outstanding. Early in the first half, Pereira took a pass from 30 yards out and fired an unstoppable blast into the top corner of the net.

A strong defensive showing from the back-line and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa helped see out the win for El Grana.

Now level on points with Sporting Gijon, Granada must be able to continue this form in order to escape from the relegation zone.

El Niño saves the day for Atletico

In a match where Atletico Madrid were not at their best, it was a familiar face who was able to drive them toward success. Spanish striker Fernando Torres scored both goals for Los Rojiblancos in their 2-0 win against Leganes on Saturday.

Much of manager Diego Simeone’s side struggled throughout. French forward Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty in the first half, but Torres pounced immediately to put away a goal after the save.

In the second half, a perfect through ball from Angel Correa sprang Torres towards the opposition where he slotted home his second on the night.

Atletico Madrid sit in fourth place, four points back of third-place Sevilla.

Nasri’s missed penalty

With Real Madrid out of action this weekend, Sevilla missed a golden chance to edge closer and keep pace with Barcelona. A missed penalty from Samir Nasri was part of a disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Villarreal on Sunday.

Villarreal’s incredible defence was strong yet again on the afternoon, but early in the second half Sevilla were presented with an opportunity from the spot. A poor approach and finish from Nasri saw his penalty sent directly to goalkeeper Sergio Rico without much trouble.

Sevilla and manager Jorge Sampaoli will focus on three points when they travel to Las Palmas this coming weekend.

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