Barcelona slump to defeat as Real go six clear
Madrid: Barcelona crashed to a shock 1-0 defeat at Getafe and now trail Real Madrid, who earlier beat 10-man derby rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1, by six points in the chase for La Liga title.
It was the first defeat of the season for the reigning Spanish and European champions as Getafe frustrated their illustrious visitors and grabbed the points thanks to a second half header from Juan Valera on Saturday.
In a scrappy game Nikolas Miku shot over for Getafe after 20 minutes and Alexis Sanchez, a surprise inclusion in the Barca starting eleven, was denied by a fine reflex save from keeper Miguel Moya before half-time.
Barca continued to press but Getafe surprisingly took the lead with practically their only effort on target in the whole game when Valera, left unmarked, headed in a corner after 67 minutes.
Deep into injury time Lionel Messi had a golden chance to equalise but his shot came back off a post.
Barcelona`s last defeat came on April 30 when they lost 2-1 at Real Sociedad.
Saturday`s drama added an extra edge to the build-up to the first El Clasico meeting of the season between Real and Barcelona which takes place on December 10.
Real maintained their imperious form at the top as they beat a robust Atletico Madrid with the game turning on the first half dismissal of keeper Thibaut Courtois and a penalty converted by Cristiano Ronaldo.
It is 12 years since Atletico beat their rivals at the Bernabeu and they had a tough task against Real who were looking for their 13th successive win.
Atletico began with a high tempo and put their rivals on the back foot with an Adrian Lopez goal on 14 minutes. A Diego pass broke the off-side trap and Adrian fired home from close range.
The key moment of the match came mid-way through the first half when Karim Benzema was upended by the Atletico keeper who was red carded and Ronaldo coolly slotted in from 12 yards.
Atletico coach Gregorio Manzano hinted that his side would use a physical approach to keep Real at bay and the yellow cards piled up as the visitors looked to hold on.
After the break though Ronaldo pulled the ball back for Angel Di Maria to put Real ahead and then substitute Gonzalo Higuain rounded the keeper after 64 minutes for the third.
Atletico were reduced to nine when defender Diego Godin was dismissed for a foul on Higuain in the box and Ronaldo got his second of the match from the resulting penalty with nine minutes left on the clock.
"We didn`t look to go out and cause any problems, we went out to play and to win and some people went home in pain. Luckily the shinpads are made of carbon, they are expensive but they do their job," said Real coach Jose Mourinho afterwards.
"We did what we had to do. We played with discipline and only received one yellow card in the whole match. We maintained our calm and refused to respond to the provocation but I would have preferred a better game if I had paid to watch it."
Valencia continue to demonstrate that there is no two-horse race in La Liga this season as their 2-1 victory away to Rayo Vallecano put them a point behind Barcelona
The visitors arrived on the back of a 7-0 thumping of Genk in the Champions League and domestically they have lost only once in seven games now. That defeat came last weekend in a hard-fought battle to the end against Real Madrid.
Valencia were up against a Rayo team who have adapted well to life back in the top flight following an eight year absence and they knew that a victory would have put them in the European places.
Rayo pressed hard and there was little space for either side to develop their play. Valencia took the lead with the first real chance of the match when Jonas Goncalves had a speculative shot from distance which surprised the keeper David Cobeno.
Valencia had their keeper Diego Alves to thank for two excellent blocks from Alejandro Arribas and Andrija Delibasic either side of half time before an excellent team move was finished off by Tino Costa.
Substitute Raul Tamudo scored a consolation for Rayo six minutes from the end.
The bubble appears to have burst at Levante who have lost the last three games following their magnificent run which put them top of the table, and they will try and stop the slide on Sunday against Sporting Gijon.