Sunday, February 25, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

Almeria do just fine with 9, and Real score 4 as top draw

Real Madrid, Almeria and Sevilla were the big winners in this week's round of fixtures. In fact, amazingly, they were the only teams inside the the top 16 to win at all!     


Raul, with his 308th club goal, put Madrid one up at Sporting Gijon on Sunday, and in doing so edged past Di Stefano's long standing all-time scoring record. An achievement the Asturian fans met with chants of 'Raul retire now'. Unfortunately for them he obviously didn't feel like hanging his boots up quite there and then, instead going on to score Madrid's 4th in the 76th minute after cool finishes from Huntelaar and Marcelo (both assisted by Higauin) had put the game out of reach for Gijon.      



Sevilla's fans had to bite their way through slightly more nail but Kanoute's brace in the last 10 minutes  sealed victory for them in the end and further strengthened their claim on the 3rd place Champions League spot.   


But it was Almeria's rollercoaster-ride victory that deserved to steal all the headlines this week. In the face of adversity, in the game of the week, they came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 with just 9 men on the pitch! 


Almeria fell behind early to a thunderous David Leon free kick that rattled in off the cross bar before Gouitom bundled in another just 5 minutes later. Crusat then pulled a goal back on 61 minutes, but Almeria's cries of joy soon turned to despair when 2 minutes later they lost Bruno to a straight red-card.


Nevertheless, on 70 minutes Kala Uche managed to use his incredible leap to head Almeria level from a tight angle and continue his fine run, having scored 6 goals in 6 games. Unfortunately that run of good fortune came to an end as just 8 minutes later, in an attempt to burst free on the right wing, he raised an arm and proceeded to plant it in Nano's face, for which he promptly recieved his marching orders.  


Incredibly seconds later Negredo made sure the game went the full loop de loop as he sent an audacious 40 yard lob past the Vallodolid Keeper to complete his team's incredible 9-man comeback that lifts them to 13th place.  


All this happened on Sunday with La Liga having got underway Saturday evening with a pair of contrasting fixtures. One a rather dull goalless stalemate fought out between Deportivo and Osasuna (a result that did little for Depor's UEFA aspirations, but was enough to claw Osasuna out of the relegation places) and the other was an absolute cracker between Barcelona and a back to their best Betis side.   


Playing at home and having claimed Sevilla's scalp in their derby match last week, Betis were in no mood to roll over and accept defeat. That was clear to see when after little more than 15 minutes played, Alessandro Melli's header put them ahead and 5 minutes later Mark Gonzalez made it 2-0 with a clinical control and finish at the far post.  


However Barca were given a lifeline when just before half time when the impressive Iniesta was adjudged to have been fouled in the box. Eto'o stepped up to take the spot kick which Ricardo did well to parry, but the rebound rolled into the path of the on-rushing Camaroon striker, who isn't one to spurn second chances. 


Barcelona brought on Messi and went into attack mode themselves in the second half, but their lion's share of possesion in and around the Betis box left them open to Betis's quick counter attacking style. Only the astuteness of their keeper Valdes and that of the linesman prevented Betis extending their lead.  


With less than 10 minutes remaining and still no change in the scoreline Barcelona fans must have feared this would be their 1st defeat since the season's opening fixture until the 84th minute, when Samuel Eto'o stepped up again to blast his 23rd goal of the season past Ricardo for a share of the points.


The Valencia-Malaga game later that night began with not one bang but two. The first was Duda's free kick hitting the Valencia woodwork in the opening minute of play and the second 5 minutes later, the sound of Valencia's Morretti being clattered from behind by Luque who was fortunate to only see yellow.


A David Villa scorcher finally broke the deadlock on 53 minutes but only for defender Albiol to bundle a Malaga cross into his own net just 5 minutes later. 


The fact that this game ended in a draw had little influence on the league table as somehow all teams from 4th to 9th also conspired to do likewise. 


Villareal drew 1-1 away at Racing, with Cazorla rescuing a point after Zigic had put Racing ahead early with a clearly offside opener.


Forlan's instinctive finish put Atlético Madrid 1-0 up, but within 2 minutes to spare, Getafe's Albin headed in Uche's spectacular bicycle-kick pass, thus rectifiying his penalty miss 8 minutes earlier. 


Athletico Bilbao were missing their star striker, Llorente - injured after scoring past England mid-week - and it showed. They fell behind to Aitor's left footed strike on 32 minutes but Javi Martinez was once again to the rescue with a glancing header in the 52nd that put them level - a scoreline they held onto by the skin of their teeth.


The only other team to win this weekend were Mallorca whose 1-0 victory over Numancia wasnt quite enough to pull them out of the relegation zone.


 For a video round-up of all the liga goals and goings on click here.

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