After win vs PSG, Barcelona loses Spanish league lead
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 13, 2017 10:29 AM
Barcelona's Luis Suarez, right, reacts after missing a shot during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Deportivo and Barcelona at the Riazor stadium in A Coruna, Spain, Sunday, March 12, 2017. Deportivo won 2-1. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid saw Barcelona falter and then survived an awful mistake by goalkeeper Keylor Navas to regain the Spanish league lead on Sunday.
Barcelona lost 2-1 at relegation-threatened Deportivo La Coruna in its first match after its amazing win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, and Madrid took advantage with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Real Betis, despite an own-goal by Navas.
Cristiano Ronaldo equalized before halftime and Sergio Ramos netted an 81st-minute winner for Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after Navas had pushed the ball into his own net while trying to regain control following a close-range shot.
Navas made amends with a superb save two minutes into second-half injury time to secure Madrid the victory and a two-point lead over Barcelona, whose 19-game unbeaten streak in the league ended in La Coruna.
"It's part of the game, everyone makes mistakes," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said of Navas. "In the end he saved us. The save he made has given us the three points."
Without some of the starters from the 6-1 victory over PSG in the Round of 16 on Wednesday, which reversed a 4-0 first-leg loss, Barcelona lacked the same intensity that it had at the Camp Nou.
"We knew that they were coming off an intense game in the Champions League and I think it showed," La Coruna midfielder Alex Bergantinos said. "I think you could notice their weariness from the match against PSG."
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique didn't start Rafinha, Samuel Umtiti and Neymar, who was decisive on Wednesday with two goals and two assists. Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic only entered Sunday's match in the second half.
"We struggled from the start," Luis Enrique said. "There is no justification for the loss. We have to accept it and understand that there are still a lot of rounds left in the league."
The coach said he didn't think his players had struggled to get back to reality following the PSG game.
"Only those who went through what we went through this week can understand what it meant," Luis Enrique said. "But we knew that nobody will make it easy for you and that it would be hard to win points here."
Striker Joselu opened the scoring for Deportivo in the 40th with a close-range shot after Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano failed to clear a loose ball inside the area after a corner.
Luis Suarez equalized less than a minute into the second half with a right-foot strike, but the hosts went ahead again in the 74th with a firm header by Bergantinos off another corner.
Bargantinos has only four career goals in the first division, with three of them coming against Barcelona.
Deportivo, which had won only one of its last 10 matches, moved to 15th place with 27 points, eight clear of the relegation zone.
REAL MADRID 2, REAL BETIS 1
Sergio Ramos' powerful header helped Madrid survive Keylor Navas' mistake.
The goalkeeper stopped Antonio Sanabria's 25th-minute shot after diving to his left, but the ball escaped his grip and he ended pushing it across the line while trying to pull it back.
Navas yelled at himself after getting up and covered his face with both hands.
Navas is having an up-and-down season and is often criticized by Madrid fans and Spanish media, but he helped his cause thanks to the difficult late save off a close-range header by Sanabria.
Betis players wanted a red card for Navas just before the own-goal after he left his area and collided with Darko Brasanac, but the referee didn't call a foul.
Betis played a man down from the 78th after Cristiano Piccini was shown a second yellow card.
Cristiano Ronaldo's 41st-minute goal came off a header following a cross by Marcelo.
REAL SOCIEDAD 0, ATHLETIC BILBAO 2
Real Sociedad's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League took a hit after a home loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Basque derby.
Real Sociedad needed a victory at its Anoeta Stadium to stay within one point of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, the first team in the qualifying zone for next season's European competition.
Seventh-placed Athletic got on the board with a 28th-minute penalty kick converted by Raul Garcia and added to the lead with Inaki Williams in the 56th after a mistake by defender Alvaro Odriozola. His pass back to a teammate came up short and was intercepted by Williams.
CELTA VIGO 0, VILLARREAL 1
Forward Roberto Soldado scored the winner just before halftime to move Villarreal to fifth place.
Villarreal's third straight league win moved it above Real Sociedad in the standings. Both teams have 48 points, but Villarreal is ahead on goal difference.
Celta, winless in four league games, played without some regular starters ahead of its Europa League Round-of-16 match at Russian team Krasnodar on Thursday. Celta won the first leg 2-1.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni