La Liga wrap: Cristian Tello helps second-string Barça beat Zaragoza
La Liga wrap: Cristian Tello scored twice as Barcelona beat Real Zaragoza to strengthen their grip on the title. Tom Wellman reports
Two for Tello as Barça see off Zaragoza
Barcelona could afford to play a number of fringe players against lowly Zaragoza on Sunday, and even without the likes of Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi, the soon to be crowned champions of Spain ran out 3-0 winners. Thiago started the scoring and Cristian Tello grabbed two as Zaragoza’s winless run extended to 14 games and saw them drop into the relegation zone. It was too easy for Barcelona who could have scored more with Alexis Sánchez and Cesc Fàbregas coming close on several occasions. The Catalans rarely left second gear against their goal-shy opponents and weren’t forced into any dramatic changes as they were against Paris-Saint Germain in midweek. Barça remain 13 points ahead of Real Madrid with seven games remaining and it is only a matter of time before the Spanish title returns to Catalonia.
Ronaldo begins Madrid’s rout at Bilbao
From the moment Cristiano Ronaldo lashed in a soft free-kick from 30-yards out after just 90 seconds, it ended Athletic Bilbao’s slim hopes of getting a result. It was a shame for the much-anticipated contest between two of Spain’s most historic sides to go down such a predictable route, especially as it was the last time the fixture would be played at the San Mames, but Madrid’s quality was too much for Marcelo Bielsa’s Basques. Ronaldo helped himself to a second later on in the game and Gonzalo Higuaín added a third during the routine win. Fernando Llorente made a surprise return to the starting line-up, in for Aritz Aduriz, but failed to spur Bilbao on after Ronaldo’s early strike.
No El Clásico but Seville derby provides plenty of entertainment
Another El Clásico was avoided in the draw for the Champions League semi-finals but a classic derby game was played out later that evening between Real Betis and Sevilla. Unai Emery’s side had won just once away from home this season so it was a complete shock for them to carve through Betis’ defence so easily and be 3-0 up within half an hour. Ivan Rakitić was immense as he scored twice and Álvaro Negredo grabbed the other in a game which could easily have seen more goals. Betis were handed a lifeline when Gary Medel gifted Dorlan Pabón possession for him to make it 3-1 before half-time, and soon after the break, Ruben Castro scored a penalty to make it 3-2. Betis were doing all the pressing and Gary Medel made the task easier by lashing out at Swansea bound midfielder Jose Cañas, receiving a fourth red card of the season. A last-minute equaliser from substitute Nosa made it 3-3 in an epic game which could have further repercussions, as Nosa and Pepe Mel made offensive gestures after the game likely to result in punishments from the LFP.
Deportivo move out of bottom three
Who saw this coming? Deportivo La Coruna were bottom of the table a month ago but four consecutive wins has taken them out of the relegation zone when survival seemed improbable. Wins over relegation rivals Celta Vigo, Mallorca and Zaragoza were vital but Deportivo needed to continue their run against Levante away from home. In the end it was an easy victory for Fernando Vázquez’ side as they won 4-0 after being three goals ahead after just 30 minutes (a real crazy weekend in Spain as Espanyol and Valencia drew 3-3 and Atletico Madrid hit Granada for five). Depor have scored 13 during their winning run and a clean sheet was a welcome boost to the resurgent Galicians.
From late goal misery in Dortmund to final minute ecstasy for Málaga
It had been a tough week for everyone involved with Málaga as they were knocked out of the Champions League in dramatic circumstances at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. It left a lot of supporters heartbroken to come so close to a European semi-final but conversely plenty of fans wanted to show their thanks to the players before the game with Osasuna. The quality wasn’t brilliant from either side, and considering Malaga has one of the strongest defences in the division and Osasuna have scored the fewest goals, this game wasn’t to be as exciting as the Seville derby the night before. But deep into injury time, a Júlio Baptista goal gave Malaguistas late joy with a last-minute winner, going some way to making up for the agony of defeat in Dortmund and giving fans just what they needed after a painful few days.