La Liga wrap: Barcelona’s Messi overshadows Ronaldo – again!
La Liga wrap: Barcelona's Lionel Messi overshadows Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo - again! Tom Wellman reports
Barça’s Messi overshadows Madrid’s Ronaldo again
Barcelona played Osasuna hours after Real Madrid had put four past Getafe, courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo treble inside 10 minutes, but it failed to deter Lionel Messi and co. Not to be outdone, Messi bagged four of Barcelona’s goals in a 5-1 rout that put the Catalan’s back on track following a shock defeat last week. Messi’s first came in the 10th minute before Raoul Loe’s fine equaliser for Osasuna made it 1-1. The Argentine maestro scored a penalty to restore the home side’s lead before Dani Alves set up Pedro moments before half-time. On 56 minutes, Messi rounded Andres Fernandes for his hat-trick and then eclipsed Ronaldo’s feat two minutes later, tapping home Adriano’s excellent pass for his 33rd La Liga goal of the season, extending Barça’s lead over Atletico Madrid to 11 points.
Cristiano’s derby hat-trick helps Real close the gap on Atletico
Getafe had beaten Real Madrid earlier in the season, but swift revenge was carried out courtesy of a perfect Ronaldo hat-trick. After a frustrating first 45 minutes, Sergio Ramos gave Madrid the lead with a header on 56 minutes. This goal signalled the start of a stunning 15-minute spell from Madrid, and Ronaldo who bagged his first with a left-footed shot just seven minutes after Ramos had opened the scoring. A fine header followed soon after, and on 73 minutes, Ronaldo completed his treble with a right-footed penalty. It was the Portuguese striker’s eighth goal in six games and extends Madrid’s unbeaten run in 2013. With Atletico slipping up at Bilbao, the gap between the two teams stands at just four points.
Shades of yesteryear return at San Mames
Prior to kick-off, all the talk had been about Radamel Falcao’s absence against one of La Liga’s poorest defences, but a stunning performance ensured Athletic Bilbao would be the hot topic afterwards. Having been unimpressive so far this season – nowhere near the standard they reached last year, the Europa League runners-up finally rediscovered last season’s form with a sparkling performance. The Fernando Llorente saga is now over, with his services secured to Juventus at the end of the season, and Bilbao were able to get back to playing football, and in doing so, ripped Madrid apart. Mikel San Jose, Markel Susaeta and Óscar De Marcos all scored second-half strikes, and it could have been more had Thibaut Courtois not saved Atletico on several occasions. The defeat will harm Atletico’s top-two aspirations but could revitalise Bilbao who have finally shown what they’re capable of.
Paco Jemez judges it right against fatigued Betis
Rayo Vallecano boss Paco Jemez had talked up his side’s chances of beating Betis prior to the game, citing fatigue and injuries as a potential weakness to expose. Jemez’s assumptions proved to be correct as Rayo recorded a resounding 3-0 win over the Champions League chasers, leaving the Madrid outfit just a single point away from fourth spot themselves. Betis had reason to be tired having played games on Monday and Thursday in the league and Copa del Rey – drawing both. They lost over two legs to Atletico in the Cup and Jemez took his opportunity to pounce. Piti, Andrija Delibašić and Jose Carlos scored as the hosts enjoyed their fifth win in six games and a vital victory in the chase for Europe.
Valverde’s Valencia back in Champions League hunt
Valencia’s abysmal start to La Liga had the Board of Directors worried about missing out on European football, which would be detrimental to the club’s finances. They’d not won away from home before swift action was taken and Mauricio Pellegrino was sacked in a bid to resurrect their season. Ernesto Valverde stepped in and has since rescued the club from mid-table and overseen a charge towards the top six, winning five of his seven La Liga games at the helm. Roberto Soldado, Jonas and Ricardo Costa have been scoring plenty of goals since his arrival, and but for the 5-0 home loss to Real Madrid, a game in which Los Blancos were unstoppable, Valverde’s impact has been promising as they sit just two points behind Malaga in fourth.