Lionel Messi brace fires Barcelona to victory again
Barcelona are yet to hit top gear this season but Lionel Messi’s goalscoring form is apparently enough to carry them for the time being.
The World Player of the Year hit his second consecutive brace to give Pep Guardiola’s side a 2-0 win over Real Zaragoza at the Romareda. Jose Aurelio Gay’s team were positive in their approach for a team in their predicament but their cause was not helped by a needless red card rightly awarded to Leonardo Ponzio for smacking Dani Alves on the back of the head.
While Barca labour to wins, Real Madrid continue to sweep aside all opposition. Racing Santander were the victims this weekend as Cristiano Ronaldo hit four and Gonzalo Higuain and Mesut Ozil scored one each to give Jose Mourinho’s men a 6-1 victory over Racing at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Cantabrians were simply no match for Los Merengues, but their only memorable shot on goal went in, with Papakouli Diop’s drive taking a wicked deflection off Markus Rosenberg to fool Iker Casillas.
Real Mallorca are turning into one of those clubs that the big teams dread playing and there was evidence of that on Saturday when they shocked Valencia with a 1-2 win at the Mestalla. Chori Castro struck both goals for the visitors (the first from the penalty spot) and Unai Emery’s much changed side could only respond through Roberto Soldado’s spot kick. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia have all failed to beat Michael Laudrup’s men so far this season.
Espanyol are settling down in the European places after they beat Levante 2-1 at Cornella El Prat. Jesus Datolo and Jose Callejon gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side a comfortable lead before Christian Stuani struck late to ensure a tense finish. Los Pericos were comfortable in their dominance for the most part and playing against ten men for most of the second half following Xisco Nadal’s dismissal helped.
Osasuna put aside their goalscoring worries on Sunday afternoon to record a surprisingly easy 3-0 victory over Malaga at the Reyno de Navarra. Iranian pair Javad Nekounam and Masoud Shojaei went some way to appeasing their critics by scoring in the first half and Carlos Aranda rounded up the victory with a goal line flick after the break. Malaga are usually strong on the road but were completely lacking any attacking momentum in Pamplona.
Leandro Ulloa came off the bench to rescue a point for Almeria at the Juegos Mediterraneos on Sunday. Hercules took the lead through Paraguayan international Nelson Valdez and looked set for the win against a nervous rojiblanco team but Ulloa’s late strike earned Juanma Lillo’s side a 1-1 draw.
Sporting de Gijon were undone by Getafe‘s set-piece superiority in a 3-0 defeat at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. Derek Boateng, Adrian Colunga (penalty) and Ivan Marcano scored for Michel’s men to preserve their reputation as a thoroughly difficult team to break down on their own patch.
Sevilla fought to suppress a comeback as they beat Athletic Bilbao 4-3 in a thrilling encounter at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday night. Luis Fabiano (2) and Fredi Kanoute gave Gregorio Manzano’s team a three nil lead before Fernando Llorente struck twice to give the Basque side hope. Kanoute finally sentenced the game from the penalty spot before Igor Gabilondo got pulses racing again deep into stoppage time. If the score line wasn’t crazy enough, the man holding the whistle, Clos Gomez had something of the mad cow in his eye as he awarded the hosts two penalties and handed out no less than eleven bookings including a red card to Fernando Navarro.
There was more refereeing controversy in Villarreal‘s 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid. Ramirez Dominguez waved away three strong Atletico penalty claims to ensure Diego Lopez kept a clean sheet. Besides that polemic, Juan Carlos Garrido’s team were impressive going forward and Ruben Cani and Giuseppe Rossi’s goals in either half were well deserved rewards for some fantastic incisive football.
Deportivo La Coruna were condemned to another week in the relegation zone by a Real Sociedad team who continue to flourish at Anoeta. The Basque club vanquished the Galicians 3-0 with goals from Joseba Llorente, Antoine Griezmann and Agirretxe Arruti. Young French winger Griezmann was particularly devastating for this poor Depor side. Miguel Angel Lotina was bullish about turning around the club’s fortunes in the post-match press conference but he is now under serious pressure.