Barcelona picked up where they left off and Deportivo claimed a shock win at Athletic Bilbao as Spain’s La Liga returned from a winter break.
Champions Barcelona took advantage of Real Madrid’s inactivity on Sunday by beat Levante with a 2-1 win at Camp Nou. Pedro was the hero with a goal either side of half-time, but a stunning volley from Christian Stuani sparked a late fightback from the visitors. Barca held on for the three points, though, which takes them five points ahead of title rivals Madrid, who travel to Getafe on Monday.
At San Mames, Deportivo came out on top of a fiery encounter which saw three red cards in a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao. Adrian Lopez had given the visitors a half-time lead from the penalty spot, but both teams went in at the break a man down following red cards for Mikel San Jose and Juan Rodriguez of Bilbao and La Coruna respectively. Lopez added a second before the break but a late Fernando Llorente goal threatened a Bilbao comeback, only for Ustaritz’s last minute red card to kill off their challenge.
Meanwhile, Malaga won a relegation six-pointer with Sporting Gijon courtesy of a 2-1 triumph at El Molinol. The sides were level at the break after Diego Castro’s penalty for the hosts was soon cancelled out by Malaga’s Robson Weligton. Antonio Apono then dispatched a penalty on the hour mark, handing Malaga a victory which takes them out of the relegation zone.
Elsewhere, Sevilla moved back into the top half of the table with a narrow 1-0 win over Osasuna, with Frederic Kanoute’s first half header being the only goal of the game.