Monday, July 15, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

Spanish La Liga review - Mexican standoff, 'Criminal' refereeing, and Eto'o scores more than an island

A brilliant individual goal from Lionel Messi got the weekend's Liga scoring underway. 20 minutes had passed in the Camp Nou when Messi - free on the right - could , and perhaps should, have played Eto'o clear through on goal. Instead he chose to continue a diagonal run across the box and away from goal. With Deportivo defenders surging back, the chance looked wasted, but all of sudden the most lightly hit shot was creeping it's way past keeper Aranzubía, at an angle only Messi had invisaged.  


It was to be that sort of night for Barcelona as they hit top gear and went on to wrap-up a 5-0 win with braces from the 'back to his best' Henry and Liga top scorer Samuel Eto'o. 



Sevilla were next up, but they found matters much more testing in their home tie against Numancia. Despite going down to 10 men after 51 minutes, Numancia looked like they just might hold on for a point, until with just 8 minutes to go Sevilla's Renato burst the net and Numancia's balloon with a clinical strike from the middle of the box.  


Madrid’s 3-1 home victory against Osasuna, with goals from Ramos, Higuain and Robben, was far less clear cut than the scoreline suggests. Osasuna may well have felt hard done by in losing a match they'd lead 1-0 at halftime having dominated Madrid, but if I tell you that they had 2 valid penalties denied, and that for each of those decisions the fouled Juanfran recieved a yellow card  then you'll have some idea of the mood in Pamplona this morning. A mood well indicated by Osasuna president who claimed a friend and ex-international referee had told him that what the referee, Perez Burrull, had done was ‘criminal’ - to use his exact words. 


Villareal meanwhile, also at home and hunting a Champions League place, won in considerably more comfortable a fashion. A headed goal for Cazorla followed by a Rossi penalty on the half hour mark proved to be more than enough against a lowly Mallorca -who have now scored less goals as a collective than Samuel Eto'o. A win that was all the sweeter for them after seeing rivals Valencia and Atleti both slip up in their away fixtures. 


In the Almeria-Atléti clash two former Mexico international teammates - in the form of managers Javier Aguirre and Hugo Sanchez - were brought head to head. But their 1-1 draw means Almeria boss, Sanchez (fresh to Liga this year), may well not find his old colleague in charge the next time the two sides meet.  


Uche put Almeria ahead early on with his 3rd goal in 2 weeks, but Sinama Pongolle equalized for Atletico Madrid after just 21 minutes. Despite having a glut of chances and seeing Almeria go down to 10-men, the mis-firing Madrid side just couldn’t break the deadlock. 


The Athletic Bilbao-Valencia clash on the other hand was a real classic. The absence through injury of Edu and Silva for Valencia seemed not to be noticed when after just 2 minutes Villa put them ahead with a trademark sharp strike from a well timed run. 


Bilbao's Gabilondo then equalized 16 minutes later, heading home David Lopez's well placed cross. But Valencia were to re-take the lead on 30 minutes, once again through the excellent work of Villa, who this time turned provider as he slid the ball through for Morientes to tap in.  


But it was to be Bilbao's Javi Martinez who was to steal the hero of the day honours along with the match. He scored just before half time, glancing a header in at the near post from a set piece, and then won a last minute penalty for his team when he forced Fernandes (who Everton fans will well remember) to pull him down in the box. Llorente converted the resulting penalty in the dying moments to take Bilbao's impressive unbeaten run up to 9 matches and move them up to 9th. 


Racing Santander’s earlier win at Getafe, however, had prevented their local rivals Bilbao from getting any further ahead as - for the second week in a row since returning to the Cantabrian club - the towering Nicola Zigic scored a deciding goal in a closely fought 1-0 win. 


Elsewhere in the league Malaga moved up to level points with Atlético Madrid with an emphatic 4-0 win over Español, Betis beat Vallodolid 3-1 with Sergio Garcia grabbing an assist and two goals by chipping the outrushing Vallododid keeper, and Recreativo beat Sporting Gijon 2-0.

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