Real Sociedad continue to take La Liga by storm, recording a 2-1 win over Barcelona in a terrific encounter at the Estadio Anoeta.
Sociedad, who struggled so badly last year, are now four points clear, due this win and other results going theiir way at the weekend.
A Darko Kovacevic double was enough to defeat a typically inconsistent Barca, who had taken the lead through Patrick Kluivert. Their ability to self-destruct in the league continued as Motta and Marc Overmars saw red in the final fifteen minutes. Louis van Gaal now finds his illustrious team, unbeaten in the Champion’s League, but in tenth place in la Liga, 10 points adrift of Sociedad.
The other team to have started the season unexpectedly well are Real Mallorca, who continue to pull off surprising results, this time gaining a point at the Riazor even though they played most of the match with 10 men against Deportivo La Coruna.
A Roy Makaay brace was cancelled out by goals from Walter Pandiani, ironically on loan to Mallorca from Depor, and Samuel Eto’o. The Islanders remain second, ahead of Valencia, who could only manage a goalless draw at Alaves. Rafael Benitez’s side suffered a further blow as their goalkeeper Santiago Canizares was stretchered off with a knee injury.
Entertainers Real Betis and Celta Vigo kept up the pace in La Liga, both recording wins to keep them in the European spots.
Betis had a hard fought 1-0 home win over Athletico Bilbao, thanks to another goal from their impressive new signing Marcos Assuncao, whilst Celta Vigo had a rare away win at Real Valladolid – Catanha and Edu scoring in a 2-0 victory.
Real Madrid lost further ground on the leaders when their match with Sevilla was postponed due to their World Club Cup commitments.
Espanyol climbed out of the bottom two after a vital win at home to Rayo Vallecano, who themselves go second bottom, largely to a Raul Tamudo double.
Recreativo de Huelva now prop up La Liga after losing 1-0 away tofellow strugglers Villereal, and already seem set for a season of toil only 12 matches into the campaign.
Barcelona weren’t the only side to end a match with nine men this weekend. Malaga, suffering a bad reaction to their midweek goalless draw against Leeds in the UEFA Cup, had Josemi and Fernando Sanz sent off in their 1-0 defeat at Racing Santander, for whom former Real Madrid star Pedro Munitis proving the matchwinner.
The onlyother result this weekend was a surprise 1-0 win for Osasuna over Althletico Madrid, suffering only their second defeat of the season.