La Liga wrap: Barcelona beat Villarreal as Spain mourns Tito Vilanova
La Liga wrap: Barcelona were 3-2 winners against Villarreal on an emotional Sunday night for the Catalan side
La Liga mourns death of Vilanova
Former Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova sadly lost his fight against throat cancer on Friday after a three-year battle with the disease. Barcelona declared three days of mourning following Vilanova’s passing, with many key figures paying their respects to him. Vilanova led Barcelona to their record La Liga points tally last season despite suffering with illness, but he tragically died after his health declined on Thursday night. As a former youth coach at Barca, Vilanova was responsible for bringing through the likes of Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique, and was a key figure during the Pep Guardiola dynasty. Heartfelt tributes were made prior to each La Liga game this weekend, with Barcelona set to mark his passing with a ceremony before their next home game. A truly admirable man who will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Tito.
Eventful and emotional win for Barca in Villarreal
Following the news about Vilanova, Barcelona’s players had to gather themselves and maintain their title bid away to Villarreal. Hardly in the best of form at the minute, Barca fell 2-0 behind and looked destined to fall out of the title race altogether. That was until two own goals saved them and levelled the game, ironic as the players desperately wanted to dedicate a goal to their former manager. They eventually got their chance as Messi struck the winner, embracing fellow youth graduate Sergio Busquets and pointing upwards. That strike kept Barcelona four points behind Atletico Madrid and still in with a slight chance of snatching the title. On a stranger note, the game will be remembered for an incident involving Dani Alves. A banana was thrown onto the pitch in his direction, but the Brazilian ignored the racial sentiment and instead started eating it! Alves’ reaction does not mask the problem Spain has with racism, but did offer a moment for people to smile at.
Atletico near title after narrow victory
Atletico’s 1-0 win over Valencia means they can now win the title before facing Barcelona on the final day. If Diego Simeone’s men beat both Malaga and Levante they will have enough points to seal a historic league title. Chelsea will now be on Simeone’s mind however after Raul Garcia’s sole strike was enough for victory over Valencia. He finished off Gabi’s pass for the only goal, but Madrid should have made the win more secure had Diego Costa had his shooting boots on. Costa missed a few good openings and will have to be more precise in London this week if Atletico are to have any chance of a double success.
Ronaldo beauties the highlights of Real’s Osasuna romp
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a couple of stunning strikes as Real cruised to another comfortable home win. Both goals came from outside the area, but the second one was particularly special, finding the top corner perfectly. Sergio Ramos and Daniel Carvajal headers added to the score later on as Real keep the pressure on their city rivals. Gareth Bale was missing with illness but is expected to be fit for the Champions League tie with Bayern Munich this week. Ironically, Real celebrated with the Copa del Rey trophy in front of their fans on Saturday, but the Welsh match-winner was unable to join in. His surging runs could be crucial in Munich if Madrid are to get through to the final in Lisbon.
Bilbao set for Champions League after Sevilla duel
Sevilla’s recent form meant that Athletic Bilbao needed to ensure they didn’t lose their cool in a crucial game in the race for Champions League football. Billed as a potential decider, Bilbao made light work of their opponents, taking advantage of Sevilla’s Europa League fatigue. Unai Emery had seen his side beat Valencia 2-0 on Thursday night, but Sevilla collapsed and were 3-0 down after 73 minutes. Kevin Gamiero pulled one back but it was not enough as Sevilla see their Champions League charge falter late in the season. Fourth spot looks certain to be Bilbao’s but one more result will seal it. After Real Sociedad’s brief love affair with the competition, Bilbao are making sure the Basque Country has another season of Champions League football to look forwards to.