It was all-change at the top this weekend in Liga Iberdrola as Atleti claimed a vital win over Valencia and Barcelona tripped up against Athletic Club, Betis eased to a home win against Albacete and Sociedad came up trumps in Tenerife.
Elsewhere, Levante got back on track with a big win over inconsistent Espanyol, Madrid came from behind against Santa Teresa, Rayo outclassed Huelva and Sevilla held their nerve against Zaragoza.
Real Betis 4-0 Albacete
Stretching their unbeaten run to nine – the longest in the league – Las Verdiblancos easily despatched with El Funda, Bea Parra at the heart of all Betis did right in Seville. A delicate ball swept along the left flank for Priscila Borja got the game rolling for the hosts, the veteran striker chasing onto the ball before lightly lifting it over Elena in the away goal. Marta Pérez’ hopeful low drive seven minutes later brought about the second goal as it cannoned off of the upright and back into the mixer, Paula swift to turn it home.
A persistent threat, the hosts had to wait until after the hour to grab their third of the match, Rocío’s plumb header off of Parra whipped free kick too much for Elena to deal with. The fourth and final blow for the visitors arrived in the last ten minutes, Parra’s low volley enough to ping the ball into the bottom corner. A team in a rich vein of form, 2018 has seen Betis not just rise from eighth to fourth by turn a -7 goal difference into a +4.
Up against a Valencia team on a six-match unbeaten run (Las Ches only having dropped two points along the way to Atleti’s four), Las Colchoneras knew they had their work cut out for them when they welcomed the Valencians to Madrid. Asking questions from the get-go, the difference was a sublime strike from Sonia Bermúdez just before the half hour, her deft lob over Jennifer Vreugdenhil thoroughly deserving of all three points.
Doing their best to pick up some steam, Sevilla stretched their unbeaten run to three with a tight win over a Zaragoza side desperate to pull themselves off of the bottom of the table.
Jenni Morilla’s twelfth minute header gave the hosts the critical advantage to leave Zaragoza with it al to do, the task doubled ten minutes later when Olga nicked Amparito’s square ball in at the far post. A second from 29-year-old Morilla, another close-range finish for the hosts, put daylight between the two ten minutes before the break before a moment of madness from Maite looked to turn the match on its head. A straight-forward corner had the defender reaching into the sky to stop the path of the ball – a foul for which she saw a straight red – having clearly handled, the hosts were penalised from the spot, Teresa calm from 12-yards.
Still two goals down but with a man advantage, the Blanquillas looked to turn the tide after the break, Macarena Portales turn and shoot in a tight area enough to bring them within one with 25 minutes left. Ultimately, the damage had been done in the first half and Pamela Tajonar refused to give up a third equalising goal.
One of the shocks of the weekend was served at the Mini Estadi in Barcelona, the hosts close from the off but unable to find their best against Ainhoa Tirapu. The chances flowed for the Catalans but every shot dared to miss the mark by a whisker, time after time as fortune favoured the Basques. With the match still deadlocked fifteen minutes from time, a lofted ball over the top from Erika Vázquez opened up the winner, Lucía García hugging the offside to chase onto the aerial ball. Having dashed around the back of Melanie Serrano, García was free to run into the box and slot the ball between Sandra Paños and her near-post, the strike pin-point to give Athletic all three points at an unforgiving stadium.
Beginning to build a head of steam, La Real travelled to one of the meanest venues in Liga Iberdrola, their 1,300 mile trip to Granadilla’s San Isidro home the join-longest in the league. The match opening up after the break, the visitors making the most of Tenerife’s mistakes when they came after the hour, Nahikari García’s tenth goal of the season enough to break the deadlock. With their noses in front, Txuri Urdin dug out a quick second through Núria Mendoza leaving the hosts with little time for a comeback, the match decided in a seven-minute spell.
Without a win in six, Santa Teresa found themselves leading for the third match on the bounce, Mariana Diaz’ sixth minute goal enough to give them the advantage in the capital. Though just like their previous two league outings, the lead refused to hold until full time, Saray García’s third in four bringing about parity on the hour before an own goal from Marina Agoues handed the hosts the lead at the Matapiñonera. Having seen the match turn in seven second half minutes, things fast got worse for the side from Extremadura who were forced to finish the match with ten after Marta Parralejo had been shown two yellows. Though the result hasn’t affected the league standings, it leaves Santa Teresa with one less chance to cut down the difference and crawl out of the bottom two.
Rayo 3-1 Sporting Huelva
It took the Rayistas six tries but the side from Madrid finally have their first win in 2018, their fast start at home too much for Sporting to handle. Fast goals were the theme of the weekend around the league and Natalia had received the memo, her strike eight minutes in gave the visitors nowhere to turn. The match settled after the goal and both sides saw their chances, Huelva ruffling the outside of the netting before Sheila finished off a clean move from Estela just before the break.
The match wrapped up just after the hour when Sheila’s ball from the right found Natalia, the reliable attacker nodding in her eleventh of the campaign. Well out of the match by then there was at least a consolation for the visitors when Pachu got the better of Ana to bring Sporting within two late in the game. The match closed out with Rayo climbing back up to ninth and Huelva slipping to thirteenth.
Charlyn Corral was back to her inspired best for Levante as the visitors put a firm end to their six-match winless run. Laying down a marker after parting ways with coach Andrés Tudela, the Granotas took no time at all to settle under Joaquín García nor in their match at the Dani Jarque off the mark just three minutes in.
Corral’s first was swiftly doubled after she’d combined well with Sonia Prim, Prim involved again three minutes later to get the better of Maríajo herself and effectively put the game to bed 19 minutes in. Losing an uphill battle, could only offer sporadic attacks as the match progressed, the visitors scything forward at every opportunity, their winning margin only increasing after the break. Again it was Corral who was the instigator, her third of the match coming after neat link-up play with Alharilla before Alba Aznar made it five ten minutes later. Still not done, Corral inflicted the sixth and final blow late in the day after combining with second half substitute, Portuguese international, Jéssica da Silva.