Yunus Musah’s start against giants Real Madrid was a rough one, while Matthew Hoppe made his long-awaited return from injury for Mallorca, in a rough weekend for Americans in Spain that saw none on the winning side of things.
Real Madrid 4 – 1 Valencia CF
Days after a strong Copa del Rey performance, Yunus Musah was called upon to start in Valencia’s midfield against league leaders Real Madrid, however it is likely a night he would prefer forget as they were blown out thanks to a second-half surge by the hosts.
Moments after Luca Modric’s shot off the crossbar in the 41st minute, Omar Alderete was whistled for blocking Casemiro’s run into the area, with Karim Benzema converting the spot kick to the upper right corner for 1-0.
That strike directly before the break setup a second half that was all-too-Real the visitors. Vinicius Junior struck twice in the space of ten minutes to make it 3-0, his first coming in the 52nd minute from close range, and his second nine minutes later when he headed a deflected save from a Marco Asensio shot over the line.
Amidst the Madrid surge, Musah, received a yellow in the 58th minute for a tactical foul on Casemiro, and left the game in the 66th minute in favor of Denis Cheryshev as a part of a triple-switch by head coach José Bordalás.
The visitors were able to claw one back in the 75th minute. Thibaut Courtois blocked a spot kick from Gonçalo Guedes, only to be helpless when the Portuguese international was in position to head the deflection in for the 3-1.
However, Benzema removed any doubt, controlling Ferland Mendy’s cross from the left side and making a full turn before striking his shot from ten yards out to secure the final 4-1 win.
Valencia drop to tenth place with the result, although they are only five points out of the Champions League places. They have a short break and time to lick their wounds before visit to Atletico Baleares in Copa del Rey action on Saturday.
UD Levante 2 – 0 RCD Mallorca
After an injury absence that stretched to two months, Matthew Hoppe made a surprise return to the field for Mallorca, playing the final quarter-hour of regulation in their embarrassing loss to last-place UD Levante.
Amidst recent rumors of a January loan to teams either the Spanish or German second-tier, Hoppe was a surprise inclusion on the bench just days after first appearing in photos of Mallorca training sessions, and was called upon by head coach Luis García Plaza in the final minutes as they tried unsuccessfully to avoid the defeat.
Despite having gone a shocking 27 games and 273 days without a league win, Levante were first on the board shortly into the second half. Enis Bardhi did well to maintain possession in the midfield and sent Roberto Soldado through on goal, where he beat debutant keeper Leo Román with a low shot for the 1-0 lead.
Mallorca were handed a golden opportunity to equalize midway through the second half when Róber Pier collided with Fer Niño just inside the area and was whistled for the penalty, however Brian Olivan struck a comically weak attempt from the spot that Levante keeper Aitor Fernandez, as well as any toddler with even one half-working eye, could easily save with little obvious effort.
Fer Niño looked to have equalized at the 81-minute mark, however his emphatic strike was called back for a handball in the buildup.
Hoppe, who entered the game in the 74th minute in place of Rodrigo Battaglia, and was an active presence in the final going, setting Amath Ndiaye up for a late attempt in injury time and getting off an attempt of his own in the 97th minute.
Despite heavy pressure from the guests, Levante finally earned a well-deserved celebration in the end, with José Luis Morales angling a shot from the left side just inside the far post on the last kick of the game to end the 2-0 win for the hosts on a high note.
Despite the humiliation on the field, Mallorca still have a three-point cushion to the relegation places. They will be back on the field on Saturday when they host Espanyol in the final 16 of the Copa del Rey.
Alaves 0 – 0 Athletic Bilbao
Matt Miazga made a return to the Alaves starting lineup in place of suspended Victor Laguardia, helping the team hang on for a scoreless draw against visiting Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
A defense-dominated game saw the teams combine for a total of 22 shots, but they could only manage to put three on frame. Athletic dominated possession and the general direction of the game, but had few answers for a robust defensive performance by Miazga and his teammates.
Both teams were dealt injury blows in the first half, with Athletic losing forward Iñaki Williams in the opening minutes, and Alaves having midfielder Jason forced out shortly before the break.
Miazga was an active presence in the defense, winning four Aerial battles, making a pair each of successful tackles and intercepted passes, and blocking one shot by the opposition, potentially giving head coach José Luis Mendilibar a tough choice about his starting defensive lineup going forward.
In the end, neither team could create any magic, with both settling for a point.
Alaves stay in the bottom three with the result, and will have a long break to think about their poor situation before visiting third-place Real Betis on Tuesday, January 18.
SD Amorebieta 1 – 1 CD Tenerife
Shaq Moore was a late substitute for Tenerife on Friday evening as they shared the points with their relegation-threatened hosts Amorebieta.
The hosts got off to a fast start, jumping to the lead in the 14th minute. Tenerife keeper Juan Soriano tried to clear a scuffed cross attempt at the near post, but poorly struck his awkward attempt directly into the path of Gorka Guruzeta, who one-timed it into the completely open net.
Tenerife equalized three minutes before the half hour from the spot, after the ball bounced off of the arm of defender Larra, with Enric Gallego striking a hard shot perfectly to the right side to convert the penalty.
Tenerife were the brighter of the two sides over the last hour, forcing Amorebieta keeper Unai Marino into several spectacular saves. Moore entered the field with 16 minutes left in regulation for starter Jeremy Mellot, however the game was already set, with both teams taking a point apiece.
Tenerife remain in fourth place following the result, but they now face a four-point gap to make up to reach the automatic promotion places. They are back in action on Sunday when Real Oviedo pays a visit.
Sergiño Dest was an unused substitute for Barcelona on Saturday for their shambolic 1-1 draw at Granada. The team is flying to Saudi Arabia to compete the the Supercopa de España, where they face archrivals Real Madrid on Wednesday.
New arrival Jonathan Gomez was not yet named to the gameday squad for Real Sociedad B in their 1-1 road draw at Leganes.