Luca de la Torre was once again a strong performer for Celta in their road upset over Betis, while Yunus Musah and Valencia inched closer to the relegation spots after a narrow loss at Girona.
Real Betis 3 – 4 Celta Vigo
Luca de la Torre had another stand-out performance on Saturday, notching up an assist in Celta’s high-scoring road win over European contenders Real Betis.
For the third straight league game, the American earned a spot in head coach Carlos Carvalhal’s starting XI, playing 75 minutes on the right side of the midfield. He had 41 total touches, completed 88% of his 32 passing attempts, won two of three tackles and three of seven duels, had five recoveries, and most importantly directly set up a goal for the second time in as many games.
The Sky Blues were on the scoreboard before the six-minute mark, with Jørgen Strand Larsen putting away a cross from Carles Pérez with a sweeping volley at the edge of the six-yard box.
Juanmi equalized for the hosts three minutes later with a poke from the left side of the six-yard box following a poorly-cleared corner, then Sergio Canales briefly gave the Sevilla-based club the lead in the 23rd with a well-placed poke from near the penalty spot.
With three minutes left in the half, de la Torre side-footed a forward pass over the defense in a wonderful act of misdirection, and Gabriel Veiga controlled the ball before chipping his shot over Betis keeper Rui Silva.
Celta then took the lead for good in the 56th minute, after Larsen cut a short cross back from the endline on the right side, giving Veiga a perfect line to hammer home from close range.
Joseph Aidoo made it four in the 69th minute, heading in a poorly cleared corner, giving his team the two-goal lead that effectively made Nabil Fekir’s spot kick with six minutes left nothing more than a consolation goal.
A late moment of drama saw Betis central defender Luiz Felipe shown a second yellow for a foolish dead-ball collision with Iago Aspas in the 95th minute, all but confirming the win for the visitors.
The victory lifts Celta all the way up to 12th in the standings, although still precarious four points from the bottom three. They host fourth-place Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
Girona 1 – 0 Valencia CF
Yunus Musah took up his usual midfield role for Valencia on Sunday, but the post-Gattuso era began as it ended with the Italian legend, with a familiar narrow loss on the road to Girona.
Interim head coach Voro opted for a four-man midfield in Girona, with Musah initially occupying the middle alongside André Almeida.
In 79 minutes before being substituted out, he forced one save with his lone shot, completed 90% of his 21 passes, was successful on one of his three dribble attempts, won his only tackle, made two recoveries, drew one foul while committing two, and won three of nine duels.
Ultimately, Girona were by far the more aggressive of the two teams, outshooting their visitors by a 20-8 margin, and forcing Valencia keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili into seven saves.
Musah’s attmept on goal was a sight to behold, as he streaked onto a fine through-ball Édinson Cavani just past the midfield stripe, split the central defenders, and was only kept out of goal by a fine save by Paolo Gazzinaga.
The game was ultimately won three minutes past the hour, after Borja Garcia connected on Rodrigo Riquelme’s cross from the right side, effortlessly putting away his shot with the first touch.
Valencia are now one spot and one point out of the relegation places, with a visit from Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Luca Koleosho was not in uniform for Espanyol on Saturday for their 1-1 draw at home against Osasuna.
Jonathan Gomez is still playing with Real Sociedad’s second team, and was not present for the top squad’s 0-1 home loss to Real Valladolid on Sunday.
Samuel Shashoua was a late scratch for Tenerife, and missed their 1-0 home win over Albacete on Saturday.
Armando Shashoua has dropped down to the Spanish third tier for the remainder of the season, having completed a loan from UD Ibiza to Córdoba CF.