Skip to main content

Real Madrid takes lead in La Liga after Barcelona loss

updated 6:50 AM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
Barcelona defender Marc Bartra, right, can only look away after Real Sociedad scored Saturday.
Barcelona defender Marc Bartra, right, can only look away after Real Sociedad scored Saturday.
  • Barcelona suffers a rare defeat in Spain, losing at Real Sociedad
  • Lionel Messi scores for Barca but it's not enough to prevent a 3-1 reverse
  • Real Madrid leapfrogs Barcelona after coasting past Elche
  • In Germany, a wonder goal helps Hamburg sink Borussia Dortmund

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- After a fine display against Manchester City in the Champions League, Barcelona couldn't back it up in La Liga. Combined with Real Madrid's victory, it means Barcelona was knocked off top spot in Spain.

Barcelona suffered just its third league loss of the campaign when it was beaten 3-1 at Real Sociedad, with manager Gerardo Martino sent off for complaining to the referee.

When Lionel Messi equalized in the 36th minute, most everyone must have thought Barcelona would go on to claim all three points. But two goals in a five-minute spell early in the second half handed Sociedad -- now unbeaten in four games -- all three points.

For once Barcelona failed to convert its possession -- 65 percent -- to goals and midfielder Andres Iniesta admitted Sociedad was the better side.

"Real played really well," Iniesta told Barcelona's website. "They were better than us, we were always trailing them.

"I don't know if this is a step back, but the feelings after the match aren't good. We didn't interpret the game like we were supposed to, and we paid for it. Real had a better approach.

"This defeat shouldn't make us give up. We have to work hard and turn this situation around. There are many points left, and we have games against direct rivals."

Atletico Madrid can join city rival Real Madrid atop the standings and on 63 points, three more than Barcelona, if it wins Sunday.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique wasn't too concerned, though.

"We're just one game off being league leaders so it's not too troubling," he said. "These things can happen. When you attack it's possible for them to score. Sometimes you don't feel comfortable on the pitch."

Cristiano Ronaldo served the third game of his three-game suspension for Real Madrid but it didn't stop Real Madrid from easing past Elche 3-0 at home.

Gareth Bale, who has struggled since moving to Spain from England's Tottenham, scored his team's second goal with a long-range effort into the top corner.

"Bale didn't have confidence before scoring his great goal and after that he was totally different," Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told reporters. "I am satisfied because we didn't concede. Our play could have been better but at this stage of the season we need to be solid and we were."

Hamburg stunner

Hamburg escaped the relegation zone in Germany in style, thumping fading Borussia Dortmund 3-0 at home in Mirko Slomka's debut. Slomka replaced Dutchman Bert van Marwijk, who was sacked after Hamburg lost seven straight in the Bundesliga.

Hakan Calhanoglu scored one of the goals of the season when he shot past keeper Roman Weidenfeller from near the halfway mark -- on a free kick.

"I practice (free kicks) every single day," the Turkish under-20 international told the league's website. "If you don't, then you lose or forget your shooting technique. That's why I knew I could do it. I just thought to myself, 'Focus and hit it like in training.'

"It was the best goal of my career."

Nurnberg scored two goals a minute apart in the second half to down last-place Eintracht Braunschweig but the game was notable for this: Three penalties were missed, a first in Bundesliga history.

Bayer Leverkusen's 3-1 loss to Wolfsburg meant idle Bayern Munich maintained its hefty 16-point lead in first.

In Italy, Roma moved to within six points of leader Juventus with a 1-0 win at relegation threatened Bologna.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.