Real Madrid and Sevilla both drew their matches, leaving four teams tied for first place in La Liga. Ronald Koeman was fired as coach of the Barcelona team after yet another defeat.
Several hours after the team’s 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday, the Catalan club fired coach Ronald Koeman, only three days after the team’s 2-1 home setback to rival Real Madrid in the “clásico” at the Camp Nou Stadium.
The Catalan club’s fifth league defeat of the season left them winless on the road and only ninth in the league standings with 15 points from 10 games played. It had been over two decades since Barcelona had lost five consecutive away matches without a victory.
Following the defeat, club president Joan Laporta notified Koeman of his decision, and Xavi Hernández emerged as the frontrunner to become the club’s new manager in the club’s first season without Lionel Messi in nearly two decades.
Barcelona said that Koeman “will say his final goodbyes to the squad” on Thursday afternoon.
A stalemate at home between Real Madrid and Osasuna prevented Sevilla from achieving anything better than a 1-1 draw at Mallorca, meaning the Spanish side missed out on the opportunity to seize exclusive ownership of the lead. Real Betis moved into first place with a 4-1 victory over Valencia on Sunday. Sociedad, who plays host to Celta Vigo on Thursday, is likewise at the top of the table with 21 points.
It was not conceivable for Real Madrid to take advantage of the fact that Barcelona lost and Sevilla drew, according to Dani Carvajal, the club’s defensive captain. It seemed like we tried everything, but the ball wouldn’t come in.
In the first half, Rayo’s veteran striker Radamel Falcao scored the game-winning goal against Barcelona.
Rayo moved up to fifth place in the table with 19 points, two points behind the leaders. It was the club’s sixth straight home victory. It hadn’t beaten Barcelona at home in nearly two decades before to this match.
“This victory means a great deal to us,” said Falcao, who had not beaten Barcelona when playing for Atlético Madrid, the club with which he had previously competed. The fact that we are providing our supporters with the opportunity to appreciate something they had never experienced before makes us happy.
After forward Memphis Depay’s effort was blocked by Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski in the second half, Barcelona was denied a second-half penalty kick.
“This is exactly what has been happening to us for the majority of the season,” Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets remarked on Wednesday. “It seems like we’re missing a little bit of everything….” In order to make less mistakes, we need a little bit more luck, belief, and concentration.”…
Falcao defeated Sergio Aguero, who was making his first start for Barcelona since joining from Manchester City, in a duel between veteran strikers. Falcao scored a goal in either half of the game.
Falcao scored in the 30th minute on a breakaway that began after Busquets lost possession near midfield. Falcao is 35 years old and played for Real Madrid. The Colombian international entered the box and used a cut-back move to get past defender Gerard Piqué before firing a low shot into the far corner for his fourth goal since joining Real Madrid this season.
After spending the previous season at Turkish side Galatasaray, Falcao returned to Spain to play for Real Madrid this season. “This is what I’m here for, to contribute with my goals,” he remarked.
Barcelona’s offensive struggled as a whole, and the 33-year-old Aguero had a couple of nice chances in front of goal but couldn’t convert them. One of Aguero’s greatest chances came when he hit a close-range header that just missed the target late in the second half of extra time.
During the 72nd minute, Depay was fouled inside the penalty area, and he was given a penalty kick.
The Catalans had won their previous two games in all competitions before falling 2-1 to Real Madrid on Sunday afternoon. It had won its previous 13 league meetings with Rayo in that time period.
THE CITY OF MADRID STALLS
Madrid was in complete command from the outset at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, but it was unable to capitalise on its opportunities against Osasuna, who had won four of its previous six matches and was in sixth position.
In the second half, Karim Benzema had one of the finest chances of the game for the hosts, but his close-range drive struck the crossbar instead of the net.
It was Real Madrid’s third consecutive home game in which they failed to win in any competition.
BETIS MAKES IT TO THE TOP
In a 4-1 victory over Valencia, Borja Iglesias scored twice as Betis moved into a tie for first place in Group A with 21 points.
The victory was the third in a row for the club coached by Manuel Pellegrini in the Premier League.
Valencia’s losing record has now stretched to seven games, and the team is now in 11th position in the table.
SEVILLA HAS BEEN RESCUED
Mallorca took the lead through Antonio Sánchez in the first half, and visiting Sevilla equalised through Erik Lamela after the break.
Sevilla had won four of its previous five league games, including two straight victories under Julen Lopetegui.