La Liga wrap: Álvaro Morata helps Real Madrid to victory at Levante
La Liga wrap: Álvaro Morata scores the winner for Real Madrid in difficult conditions at Levante. Tom Wellman reports
Morata scores Madrid winner in unplayable conditions
Jose Mourinho had to draw upon the services of 20-year-old Álvaro Morata to see off Levante on a waterlogged pitch without his trio of strikers. Gonzalo Higuaín and Karim Benzema were both missing due to injury and within a matter of minutes Cristiano Ronaldo suffered an ugly cut above his eye. He continued after treatment and scored the opening goal – his first ever at Levante – but had to leave the field at half-time. Conditions were treacherous making passing impossible due to the sodden turf, but Ángel Lafita pulled Levante level on the hour mark. Xabi Alonso spurned a penalty before Morata nodded in the winner with his first touch with five minutes remaining. It was quite apt that a Castilla player scored after the public feud between Mourinho and B team coach Alberto Toril recently.
Barça equal league record after midweek shock
The 4-2 win in Mallorca means that Barcelona have made the equal best-ever start to a La Liga season with 31 points from their opening 11 games. After Xavi, Lionel Messi and Christian Tello had given Barça a 3-0 lead by the break, Mallorca began a mini fightback. Michael Pereira and Victor Casadesus grabbed two goals in a matter of minutes, threatening to cause a surprise similar to the one Celtic managed in the Champions League last week. But Messi struck again to diminish the memories of the painful defeat in Glasgow and provided an ideal reaction – the Argentine also surpassed Pele’s 75 goals in a calendar year in the process.
Zaragoza capitalise on Deportivo implosion
Real Zaragoza had the second poorest offensive record prior to the game against the team with the second worst defensive record in the division, so the match against Deportivo was destined to disprove one of those statistics. Thankfully it was a thrilling game that ended 5-3 as Zaragoza punished some woeful defending. Depor took the lead thanks to Zaragoza’s Franco Zuculini who gifted the visitors two goals before Apoño pulled one back. Pizzi was then dismissed for Depor and Zaragoza ran riot. Paco Montantes, Alvaro Gonzalez and a Helder Postiga double punished the visitors who urgently need to correct their defensive frailties, despite Jose Luis Oltra congratulating his defenders after the game! More worryingly is the looming financial crisis in which administration is a real possibility for Deportivo.
Detrimental defeat spells the end for Pochettino
Espanyol had gone four games without defeat to push opponents Osasuna to the foot of the league but very few predicted the capitulation at the Cornella El Prat that appears to have cost Mauricio Pochettino his job. Since the final whistle of the 3-0 defeat, rumours had begun to circulate that Pochettino would depart and he looks likely to become the first managerial casualty of the season. He’s reported to have handed in his resignation but a meeting on Monday will determine his future. Osasuna, with just one win in their previous 10 matches this season, looked comfortable from the moment Álvaro Cejudo gave them the lead. Kike Sola and Manuel Omwu added to all but confirm the Argentine’s exit from struggling Espanyol.