La Liga Roundup Gameweek 23: Barca’s Six of the Best
Six different players got on the score sheet for Barcelona on Sunday as the runaway leaders thumped Getafe 6-1, while Real Madrid had a convincing win over Sevilla but remain 16 points behind the Catalans.
With coach Tito Vilanova convalescing following his recent cancer surgery, technical assistant Jordi Roura had the simplest of tasks in overseeing La Blaugrana’s latest victory at Camp Nou on their seemingly unstoppable path to another La Liga title. The unpopular noon kick-off time appeared the only issue of concern, but any doubts about that were quickly dispelled when Alexis Sanchez put Barca ahead after only six minutes.
Lionel Messi grabbed a second, with David Villa and Cristian Tello adding the third and fourth in the second half. By the time Alvaro Vazquez scored a consolation for Getafe seven minutes from time, it was game over, but there was still time for Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique to make it six for Barca.
Cristiano Ronaldo warmed up for his Champions League reunion with Manchester United on Wednesday by hitting a hat-trick for Real Madrid Saturday as Los Blancos put the disappointment of last week’s 1-0 defeat at Granada behind them to dispatch Sevilla 4-1 at the Bernabeu.
Having set up Karim Benzema for Madrid’s opener, the Portuguese struck his 180th goal in 179 La Liga appearances before going on to complete his 20th treble for Real Madrid with a trademark free kick. Both sides finished with 10 men, with Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain and Sevilla’s Hedwiges Maduro both receiving two yellow cards.
Second placed Atletico Madrid slipped up, losing 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano. Lass and Leo Baptistao put Rayo in control with first half goals and Radamel Falcao’s injury time strike for Atletico was too little, too late. Atletico trail Barcelona by eight points and are now only four clear of city rivals Real. Rayo’s win keeps them in contention for a place in Europe, in sixth place, level on points with Valencia.
Meanwhile, Isco Alarcon, who made his international debut for Spain against Uruguay last week, scored twice for Malaga, who came from behind to beat Levante at the Ciutat de Valencia. Jose Barkero put the home side ahead in the first half, but Isco struck either side of the break to grab an important win that leaves Malaga in fourth place. Valencia, who won 1-0 at Celta Vigo with an injury-time goal from Nelson Valdez, are now fifth, two points behind Malaga.
Real Sociedad climbed to seventh with a 2-1 win at Zaragoza. First half goals from Antoine Griezmann and Imanol Agirretxe put the San Sebastian side in charge, with Apono’s injury-time penalty no more than a consolation. Real Betis are level on points with Sociedad after being held to a goalless draw by Real Valladolid.
Athletic Bilbao’s erratic form continued as they crashed 4-0 to improving Espanyol at San Mames. Hector Moreno, Victor Sanchez, Christian Stuani and Joan Verdu were all on target for Espanyol, who are on an upward trajectory, while Athletic are in danger of being sucked into a relegation battle.
At the bottom, Deportivo crashed 3-0 at home to Granada to leave their prospects of preserving their Primera status looking even slimmer. The visitors, who have been flirting with the drop zone themselves, are now six points clear of the danger zone, thanks to a Carlos Marchena own goal, an Odion Ighalo strike and a Siqueira penalty. Depor, whose captain Manuel Pablo received a straight red card for dissent, are five points from safety. Coach Domingos Paciencia resigned after the defeat, bringing to an end a turbulent six weeks in charge, and former Celta Vigo boss Fernando Vazquez was rapidly installed as the third coach this season at Riazor.
Mallorca grabbed an injury-time equaliser to draw 1-1 with Osasuna in Gregorio Manzano’s first match in charge at the Iberostar. Lolo put the visitors ahead with a quarter of an hour remaining, but Pedro Geromel rescued a vital point for the islanders, who remain in the relegation zone, while Osasuna hover just two points above it.