MADRID — Real Madrid surrendered the leadership of the Liga Santander after Zinedine Zidane’s men lost an entertaining game 2-1 away to Betis.
Thibaut Courtois had already made one brilliant save to deny Nabil Fekir before Betis opened the scoring in the 39th minute after Sidnei latched onto a loose ball in the Madrid area following a corner to thump a shot past the Madrid keeper.
The defender then undid his good work, when he was then penalized after Marcelo went down under his challenge in the last moment of the first half and Karim Benzema scored from the penalty spot.
The second half could have gone either way and Luka Modric was unlucky to see a shot bounce off the woodwork, but Cristian Tello scored the decisive goal eight minutes from time after an error in distribution from the Madrid defense allowed him to advance and beat Courtois.
Real Madrid pinned Betis back in the closing minutes looking for an equalizer, but the home side held on for their first win in eight games.
A Leo Messi penalty given after consultation with the VAR gave FC Barcelona a narrow 1-0 win over Real Sociedad in the Camp Nou in a game which either of the two sides could have won.
The VAR determined that Arturo Vidal’s header from a free kick had hit visiting defender Robin le Normand on his upper arm, but failed to pull up the Barca midfielder, who was in an offside position when the free kick was taken.
Sevilla remain third in the table after an entertaining 2-2 draw away to Atletico Madrid, which will probably please them more than the home team.
Two of the four goals came from the penalty spot with the VAR having a hand in both Alvaro Morata’s 31st minute equalizer for Atletico after Luk De Jong’s 18th minute opener for Atletico.
Joao Felix’s deflected shot put Atletico in front in the 35th minute, but Lucas Ocampos levelled from the game’s second penalty in the 42nd minute after Kieran Trippier was harshly adjudged to have brought him down in the Atletico area.
Getafe remain fourth despite being held to a 0-0 draw by a resolute Celta Vigo. Celta are now unbeaten in five games as their tactics of a five-man defense are making them much tougher to beat and slowly but surely dragging them away from the danger zone.
Third from bottom Mallorca kept in touch with Celta and closed the gap on Eibar to just two points when they claimed a 2-1 win in Eibar’s Ipurua Stadium.
Dani’s 41st minute free kick evaded everyone to put Mallorca ahead before Take Kubo doubled Mallorca’s lead with 13 minutes remaining and it wasn’t until the injury time that Pedro Bigas netted a consolation for the home team.
Espanyol remain rock bottom and saw how key rivals pulled away from them after Roberto Torres’ 50th minute chipped penalty condemned them to a 1-0 defeat away to Osasuna and to make a bad day worse keeper Diego Lopez was sent off for handball in the closing minutes.
Oscar Rodriguez scored twice as Leganes came back to take a vital 2-1 win away to Villarreal after Gerard Moreno had put the home side ahead. Oscar’s first goal was a powerful effort that went in off the underside of the bar, while the winner came from the penalty spot with 20 minutes left to play.
Athletic Club Bilbao rounded off a perfect week which has seen them beat Villarreal and qualify for the final of the Copa del Rey with a 4-1 win away to Valladolid. Unai Lopez’s early free kick put Athletic ahead before Raul Garcia’s header doubled their lead before the break.
Sandro Ramirez gave Valladolid hope with 12 minutes left to play, but a defensive error allowed Inaki Williams to make it 3-1 for the visitors and Inigo Cordoba rounded off the scoring in injury time.
Valencia’s chances of qualifying for Europe suffered another setback as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to a solid Deportivo Alaves on Friday.
Roger Marti and Darwin Machis both scored as Levante and Granada drew 1-1 with Levante keeper Aitor Fernandez producing a fine save to deny Roberto Soldado a late winner for Granada.