La Liga wrap: Barcelona’s late show had hallmark of champions
Tom Wellman reflects on a busy weekend in Spain which saw Cesc Fàbregas' theatrics spark controversy in La Liga
Barça’s late show had the hallmark of champions
Sevilla beat Real Madrid at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán not so long ago, and it looked for a long time as though they were about to add Barcelona to their list of early season scalps. Having taken a two-goal lead just after half-time, Cesc Fàbregas scored Barça’s first on 55 minutes. With 20 minutes remaining, the match turned as Fàbregas’ shameful play-acting got Gary Medel sent off and Barça rallied. Fàbregas poached a late equaliser but, unhappy with just a point which would tarnish their 100 per cent record, David Villa grabbed a stoppage-time winner to steal all three points. Way below their best, Barcelona still ensured they collected maximum points from a contest they could so easily have lost. Could that game be one of the significant moments in the title race, especially with El Clásico next week?
Slack Depor hammered by rampant Ronaldo
His happiness may continue to provoke questions over an imminent transfer or new contract proposal but Cristiano Ronaldo showed no signs of discontent on Sunday as Real Madrid thrashed Deportivo 5-1. Ronaldo’s hat-trick came from two harshly awarded penalties and a determined header but he could so easily have had more against the lacklustre opposition. Against the run of play, Depor took the lead but Real responded through Ángel di María and two Ronaldo goals. What was to come after half-time was inevitable. Pepe nodded in a fourth and a second penalty of the night to ensure Cristiano left the Bernabéu with the match ball and perhaps a smile on his face.
Violent in Violet – Valladolid thump Vallecano
Rayo Vallecano only conceded two against defending champions Real Madrid on Monday, so whatever defenders turned up for their Sunday match were surely impostors! Valladolid ruthlessly exploited the space and time afforded by the visitors as they punished the visitors comprehensively as Óscar González Marcos and former Manchester United striker Manucho scored doubles in the 6-1 win. The front three of Óscar, Manucho and Alberto Beuno had a field day as they turned an early goal deficit around and looked as though they thoroughly enjoyed doing it. By half-time, Los Blanquivioleta were 4-1 ahead and had the Vallecano defenders bamboozled by their sharp runs and clinical finishing. Expect a few more eye-catching score lines if Vallecano think that they can defend with that amount of apathy again this season.
Sociedad win Basque derby as Llorente makes the headlines – again
The impressive Real Sociedad performance should be given full coverage instead of the on-going Fernando Llorente fiasco as the striker continues to cause chaos for Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa. In training on Monday, he and Bielsa had a confrontation which resulted in Llorente storming off from the practice. He only featured as a substitute on Saturday night and failed to make any real impact on a game which Bilbao were already losing. Much credit should instead be awarded to Antoine Griezmann who put in a match-winning performance and looked a constant threat for Sociedad throughout. The Frenchman struck the first in the 62nd minute before his good work helped his team win a penalty which Carlos Vela tucked away. We continue to hear about an angry Llorente and an increasingly fuming Bielsa as rumours about his own future have begun.
Summer of uncertainty has no lasting effect on consistent Malaga
Confusion surrounding club’s finances raged throughout the summer and ultimately led to the sale of Santi Cazorla to Arsenal, but Malaga seem to be showing no ill-effects of the turbulent pre-season. A 4-0 win over Real Betis maintained their unbeaten run, and in style too, though Betis could claim to be harshly treated as keeper Casto was dismissed after just nine minutes. Joaquín scored from the resulting penalty and Malaga cruised home from there. Isco and Javier Saviola scored alongside an Antonio Amaya own-goal as the south coast club relaxed ahead of their Champions League game in Brussels against Anderlecht next week. Having perhaps found the missing striking option in Saviola and continued the form from last season, could Malaga now qualify for a second successive season in the Champions League?
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