Mallorca move up to 2nd in La Liga, Barca beat Granada

Mallorca's 2-0 win over Valencia to extend its excellent start and move up to second place in the Spanish league was overshadowed on Sunday by the postponement of Real Madrid's game at Rayo Vallecano due to a presumed act of sabotage that left Vallecas stadium insufficiently well lit.

The Spanish capital derby had been billed as a must-win match for Madrid, which is 11 points behind leader Barcelona. Instead, electricians tried and failed to repair the damage caused by what Rayo president Raul Martin Presa called "vandals" who had "cut the wiring" on some of the stadiums light towers.

"Unfortunately, because of an act of sabotage, we won't be able to stage the game. It is a disgrace," said Presa, adding that the match will be played on Monday if the wiring can be fixed in time.

Earlier on Sunday, Victor Casadesus scored one goal and set up another to ensure that undefeated Mallorca won its third straight match at Iberostar stadium, lifting it to within four points of Barcelona.

Victor put Joaquin Caparros' team ahead eight minutes in when his shot slipped under goalkeeper Diego Alves. The Spanish forward then headed on a long goal kick for Angel Arizmendi to double the hosts' advantage in the 55th, just seconds after coming on as a substitute.

Barca continue winning ways. AP

Valencia, which lost its Champions League opener at Bayern Munich midweek, has just one win after five rounds.

"Maybe we can stir (the league) up because, I insist, this team is ambitious," said Caparros. "But we have to keep our feet firmly on the ground because football has many ups and downs and the best way forward is to focus on the short term, like the next game."

Also, Malaga drew 0-0 at Athletic Bilbao to stay unbeaten in third place and level with Mallorca on points. Atletico Madrid won its third straight by downing the visiting Valladolid 2-1, and Levante rallied to a 2-1 home win over Real Sociedad.

Defender Diego Godin showed the finishing touch of a striker to give Atletico the lead in the 31st with a cool chip shot, and Radamel Falcao tallied his eighth goal in all competitions for Atletico with a spot kick in the 45th. Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois let Alberto Bueno's shot slip through his hands to gift Valladolid a consolation goal in the 55th.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone applauded the "absolute precision" of Godin's goal, but the Argentine manager saved his highest praise for his goalkeeper.

"I congratulated him. After his mistake he knew how to react and made quality saves. I think he was the man of the match," Simeone said.

In Valencia, former Newcastle forward Obafemi Martins netted an 86th-minute winner in his debut for Levante to seal its comeback.

Sociedad went in front at Ciutat de Valencia stadium through David Zurutuza's long-range strike off the upright in the 23rd, only for Jose Barkero to level for Levante with a penalty with 20 minutes to play.

Martins, who had gone on after halftime, used his pace to chase down Sergio Ballestero's long pass, head it forward and fire past the goalkeeper to snatch the win in dramatic fashion before celebrating with a series of somersaults.

"Already in my first training session I saw that Levante isn't such a small club as some people think, and I am very happy to be here," the Nigeria international said.

Meanwhile, Xavi Hernandez scored three minutes from time to seal Barcelona's hard-fought 2-0 home win over Granada on Saturday, keeping the Spanish leaders perfect through five rounds.

Barcelona opened a provisional 11-point gap over defending champion Real Madrid, which faces a Spanish-capital derby at Rayo Vallecano on Monday.

Goalkeeper Antonio "Tono" Rodriguez was keeping his net clean with an inspired performance until Xavi pounced on a loose ball at the top of the area and fired it off the underside of the crossbar to finally break through for the hosts.

Lionel Messi then provoked Barcelona's second goal two minutes into injury time when defender Borja Gomez redirected the Argentina forward's shot into his own goal.

Granada largely kept Barcelona out of its area, and even showed moments of attacking intent, in an evenly matched first half. And Tono's numerous acrobatic saves to deny Barcelona after halftime gave the modest side hope that it would finally take at least a point away from Camp Nou Stadium after having lost in its 18 previous visits.

But Xavi, who replaced David Villa in the 53rd after the Spain striker made his first start since breaking his leg last December, placed his right-footed strike in about the only place he could be sure Tono would not be able to reach to claim the win.


Updated Date: Sep 24, 2012 17:48 PM

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