Third placed Valencia looked to have the points wrapped up at Betis on Saturday, before two injury time goals from Ruben Castro turned the result around to give the Seville side their first win in 11 games, winning 2-1. Betis are now one of five sides on 16 points, alongside Real Sociedad, Getafe, Granada and Rayo with Villarreal and Sporting on 15, Racing a further two points back and Zaragoza bottom on 10 points.
Valencia’s slip up means that Llevant have closed the gap to just a point between third and fourth, with their 1-0 win over Seville on Saturday. With a five point lead over fifth placed Seville now, Llevant are guaranteed to be sat in the top four over the break and their manager Juan Ignacio Martinez admitted: “never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we’d be in this situation just before Christmas”. Malaga are level on points with Seville after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Osasuna, with Isco drawing the hosts level after Ibrahima had put the Basques ahead in the first half.
That point means the Pamplona team, who spent much of last season struggling to avoid relegation, are now in seventh, two points off Malaga and Seville and two above Espanyol, who saw off Atletico Madrid 4-2. Pochettino’s team were three up after just 18 minutes, thanks to two from Verdu and a third from Romaric and although Falcao managed to pull one back before the break, a Sergio Garcia strike on 53 minutes guaranteed the points, despite a late consolation from Arda Turan. That defeat leaves Atletico nearer to the relegation zone than to the European places and further confirmed their terrible away record – one draw and five defeats so far this season.
Of the teams below Atletico, only Rayo, Granada and Zaragoza lost, with Sporting getting a tremendous 1-3 win at Rayo, with two goals from Nacho Novo, Getafe squeezing out a 1-0 win over Granada thanks to a late Casquero strike and Mallorca making it five games on the run unbeaten, seeing off a sorry Zaragoza 0-1 at La Romareda. Racing grabbed a point with an injury time equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Bilbao, whilst Villarreal and Real Sociedad shared the points in a 1-1 draw at El Madrigal.