Sevilla have made a wretched start to the season but turned in a stirring performance on Saturday to defeat Barcelona 2-1 at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, their first win over the Catalans for eight years condemning Barca to their second successive loss.
Luis Enrique was without the injured Lionel Messi but with Luis Suarez and Neymar in their forward line it was stretching a point to describe the Barca line-up as ‘weakened’ ahead of their visit to Andalucia.
Sevilla themselves were missing key players such as Ever Banega, but in Michael Krohn-Dehli they may just have found a new creative midfielder in the mould of Ivan Rakitic, who left Los Rojiblancos to join Barca in 2014.
Danish international Krohn-Dehli sent the Sevilla faithful wild with delight as he stroked home his side’s opener on Saturday, before setting up Vicente Iborra minutes later for the second.
Neymar’s penalty gave Barcelona a lifeline after Benoit Tremoulinas was harshly adjudged to have handled. The Catalans then threw the kitchen sink at Sevilla, drawing a string of fine saves from Sergio Rico as the home side held on for the win that could kick-start their season.
Saturday’s win for Sevilla was a personal triumph for Coach Unai Emery, who finally masterminded a win over Barcelona after failing to beat them in 21 previous attempts with Almeria, Valencia and Los Rojiblancos.
Sunday’s Madrid derby was a tense, sometimes tetchy affair, with the capital’s big boys cancelling each other out at Vicente Calderon. Substitute Luciano Vietto was the hero for Atletico, the 21-year-old Argentine coming off the bench to cancel out Karim Benzema’s early opener for Los Blancos and rescue a point for the hosts.
Atletico missed an earlier chance to level when Keylor Navas produced a fine save to keep out Antoine Griezmann’s penalty. The goalkeeper also pulled off a vital late save to deny another substitute, Jackson Martinez, a winning goal.
Surprise early leaders Villarreal, Vietto’s previous club, slipped up at Levante. In a match that looked to be heading towards a goalless draw at the Ciutat de Valencia, Brazilian striker Deyverson hit the winning goal eight minutes from time.
Malaga had failed to score in their opening six La Liga fixtures, but another Brazilian forward, Charles, opened their account as he struck a hat-trick in a convincing 3-1 win over Real Sociedad at La Rosaleda.
Signed from Celta Vigo in the summer, Charles opened the scoring in the fourth minute and doubled the lead three minutes later when he ran on to a long clearance from goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to put Malaga in control.
La Real quickly fought back as Imanol Agirretxe notched his fifth of the season and, although Malaga dominated, they only secured the points with a minute remaining as Charles completed his treble.
Valencia maintained their inconsistent start, going down 3-1 at Athletic Bilbao. Dani Parejo gave Los Che an early lead at San Mames, but Athletic hit back with goals from Aymeric Laporte, Markel Susaeta and Aritz Aduriz to earn the win.
Elsewhere, Eibar won 2-0 away at Las Palmas and Real Betis won by the same scoreline at Rayo Vallecano, while Sporting Gijon secured a 2-1 victory at Espanyol. Granada were held 1-1 at home by Deportivo La Coruna while Celta and Getafe fought out a goalless draw.
The weekend’s results mean Villarreal remain on top of La Liga, just a point ahead of Real Madrid, Celta and Barcelona. Atletico are a further two points behind in fifth position, a point clear of Deportivo and Eibar.