Liga Iberdrola week 21 review: Zaragoza pick up second win of the season
Credit: VAVEL ESP/Ernesto Aradilla

It was a week for away teams in Liga Iberdrola with Atleti, Tenerife, Madrid, Rayo and Barca inflicting home defeats on Huelva, Santa Teresa, Athletic, Levante and Valencia. Elsewhere Zaragoza claimed the only home win of the weekend at Espanyol’s expense whilst Sociedad-Betis and Albacete-Sevilla both finished 1-1.

Real Sociedad 1-1 Real Betis

Stretching their unbeaten run to ten – the longest in the league currently – Betis left Lasarte-Oria with a point, having shared the spoils with an improving La Real who’ve stretched their own unbeaten run to five.

A playing in a rich vein of form, Bea Parra gave the visitors the lead 24 minutes in, slipping the ball under Mariasun from the left side of the goal after the hosts had failed to capitalise on a handful of strong chances. The team still seeing the better chances, La Real finally found their equaliser – one of their tougher chances all told – twenty minutes from time when Nerea Eizaguirre let fly.

After picking up Manuela Lareo’s deflected ball, Eizaguirre rolled the ball over the top of her foot as she lifted the sphere over the box, her touch enough to guide it over Miriam and into the back of the net.

Sporting Huelva 2-4 Atletico Madrid

Nearly given an early shock by an audacious effort from Anita, Atleti found their stride taking the lead through Esther Gonzalez’ close-range volley before Amanda Sampedro rolled the ball home for the second five minutes later. With Huleva’s right side consistently struggling and both goals having come from Sarita Serrat’s left it was of little surprise that the third came from the same area, though little could be done about Sonia Bermúdez’ 20-yard pearler.

With the match all but won in the first half, the second didn’t see as many chances, the fourth goal somewhat surprisingly coming for the hosts. Pouncing on some sloppy control from Mesi, substitute Rutendo Makore made her mark 11 minutes after coming on, rolling the ball into the bottom left corner, beyond the reach of Andrea Paraluta. Staring down an unlikely late come-back, Atleti made the old adage of, “You’re always most vulnerable after you’ve just scored” ring true, reopening the gap within seconds of the restart. Seeing her initial header saved by Serrat, Gonzalez wasted no time, following up the parry to knock the ball home at the second time of asking.

Down but not out, there was still time for Makore to grab a second for the hosts and give the home fans something to cheer, leaping through the air like a salmon, the Zimbabwean emphatically nodded Elena Pavel’s 40-yard free-kick over Paraluta and home.

Santa Teresa 0-3 Tenerife

Two teams with opposing fortunes this season, there was little in the way of joy for Santa Teresa who still languish in the bottom two. A first-half double from Cristina Martín-Prieto saw the Sevillian extend her tally to seven for the season and leave the hosts with little room for a comeback.

Sara Tui’s gambit after the hour enough to put the match well out of reach and put the rolloping side from Tenerife back on track after two weeks without a win, the islanders up to fourth.

Zaragoza 2-0 Espanyol

Dead-last Zaragoza haven’t had a huge amount to cheer about this season but have been posting significantly better results since the turn of the year, their second win of the season comparatively showing up in lightning-fast time. Making it five points from five matches, Zaragoza’s winter signings were back at it for Alberto’s team against a struggling Espanyol side.

Zenatha Coleman found her third of the year early in the match before Montenegrin international, Armisa Kuć added a second of the match and her first for the Aragonese side. Zaragoza still bottom but fast-closing the gap on Santa Teresa.

Valencia 1-4 Barcelona

A clean strike from Mapi at an early free-kick gave the visitors the edge in Valencia as they looked to recover from their loss last time out – a feeling much-shared by Las Che. Another lofted ball forward brought about the second goal as Barca made their dominance count, Lieke Martens outrunning Ivana with ease, shaping to shoot far-post the Dutchwoman swept the inside of her boot against the ball and rolled it into the near corner.

In a team so dominated by attack, it was of little surprise to see another defender get on the scoresheet, Marta Torrejón’s volley at a nodded on corner enough to put the game out of reach in first-half stoppage time. For the third time in the match, the hosts were undone at a corner, this time it was Nataša Andonova who was left to celebrate when her 62-minute whipped cross curled all the way home from the quadrant.

Digging in, Las Che were finally rewarded for their efforts in stoppage time, Marta Peiró’s touch enough to take Marianela Szymanowski’s ball over the line and give the home fans a conciliation to cheer.

Credit: VAVEL ESP/Daniel Nieto
Credit: VAVEL ESP/Daniel Nieto

Albacete 1-1 Sevilla

On a solid three-match unbeaten run, Sevilla added a fourth with a draw in Albacete, the hosts taking a valuable point as Zaragoza have begun to put a run of form together and unsettle their 14 place.

A nippy ball from Andrea gave the hosts the breakthrough 20 minutes when Olga stretched a leg at the bouncing ball, her touch enough to take it beyond Elena and leave teenager wheeling away in celebration. Although both sides saw good chances, with a particular flurry for the hosts that really should have resulted in an equaliser it wasn’t until near the hour that the second goal went in. Clean footwork from Alba Redondo enough to see the young midfielder evade the closing defence and slip the ball past Pamela Tajonar at her near post for her eighth of the season. The parity unwilling to be broken, leaving both league strugglers with a point.

Athletic Club 2-3 Madrid

In typical fashion, there was little room for correct guesses when Liga Iberdrola’s two unpredictable sides clashed in the north over the weekend, the chances coming thick and fast for both attack-minded teams. The first goal was a product more of defending error than anything, the away defence unsettled by Yulema Corres as the free-flowing attacker cut into the box, her layoff to Nekane perfectly weighted for her teammate to slip the ball home.

With just a goal separating the at halftime, Madrid steamed out of the blocks after the restart, a partially cleared corner finding its way back to Saray García for the captain to recycle and send back. The ball ballooning over the box, over the arms of a shocked Ainhoa Tirapu, it curled over the ‘keeper and dropped just behind her, arcing back against itself to make it over the line in one clean move. After the hosts had scuffed a chance to regain the lead, lightning struck twice for García, the veteran midfielder with another lofted ball from outside the box, this one a clearer shot. Looping through the air, Tirapu managed to get a touch to the ball, though the Athletic number one could only touch the ball against the inside of the post, the effort always goal-bound.

The match turned around in four second-half minutes, there was still time for a late flurry, with both sides claiming a goal deep in stoppage time. Brazilian Geyse needed just four minutes after coming on to find a third for Madrid, the hosts pushed up frantically looking for an equaliser left the substitute free to chase down a long ball, fresher than Garazi Murua she remained composed to slot the ball into the bottom corner. Suddenly two goals down, the hosts needed just 76 seconds to pull themselves back within one, Corres’ angled volley from Eunate’s pinpoint ball enough for a late spark of hope though not enough time left for a sixth goal.

Levante 2-3 Rayo

Unable to repeat their same winning performance from last time out, Levante fell to their eighth loss of the season but did so with more style than they’ve been showing of late, the team still finding their feet under their new coach.

A goal down nine minutes into a Natalia penalty, the hosts restored parity fifteen minutes later through Maitane López, the midfielder with her first goal of the season. Ever the talisman for Rayo, Natalia added her thirteen of the term to give the visitors the lead in the second half before a frantic five minutes saw the Granotes go down to ten before equalising. Substitute Carol Marín’s unexpected goal looking to be enough for the hosts who needed to shut-up shop to claim a point, but just as the bench had been utilised well by Levante so it was by the Rayistas too, Gabriela Morales the hero for the visitors in Buñol.

Liga Iberdrola table as it stands (Credit: La Liga)
Liga Iberdrola table as it stands (Credit: La Liga)