Category Archives: Spanish La Liga

SPain La Liga League Cup

Ronaldo scores four as forward collects 50th career hat-trick

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Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals to hit a 50th career hat-trick as Los Blancos defeated Girona by 6-3.

Ronaldo would take his league tally to 22 goals for the season in another commanding performance at the Bernabeu, and a total of 17 in the calendar year within 8 games in all competitions.

The Portuguese captain converted Toni Kroos’ pass, but Girona’s Cristhian Stuani’s header made it 1-1.

Real, however, reclaimed the advantage with a powerful strike from Ronaldo before setting up Lucas Vazquez for the hosts’ third and then completing his hat-trick.

Stuani headed in Girona’s second, while Gareth Bale scored Real’s fifth, Juanpe pulled one back but Ronaldo got his fourth and Real’s sixth in injury time.

Their big win at home meant that Real are just four points behind neigbouring rivals Atletico — who lost in a shock 2-1 defeat at Villareal, although remain 15 points behind league leaders FC Barcelona.

Barca had already got their full 3 points with 2-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao, as Lionel Messi scored for the sixth consecutive game with Barcelona tightening their grip in the title race.

The Argentinian made a trademark dribble into the Bilbao box before laying the ball off to Jordi Alba, setting the defender up for a run to the byline before cutting the ball back to Alcacer, who was left with a simple side‑footed finish in the eighth minute of the game.

Messi then scored when Ousmane Dembele found him unmarked at the edge of the area to allow the La Liga top scorer made a clinical finish.

Lionel Messi free-kick sends Barca eight points clear in La Liga

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A Lionel Messi free-kick was enough for FC Barcelona to defeat nearest challengers Atletico Madrid with a 1-0 win at the Nou Camp and establish an eight-point advantage.

The result meant that to overtake Barca, Atletico would need to win all their remaining games — including a trip to face local rivals Real Madrid in early trip — and hope that Barca lose three of their remaining 11 games.

Nonetheless, it was a deserved win for the Catalan team although they also had several chances to add to their tally, chief among them a fierce left-footed volley by the excellent Sergio Busquets from a corner, forcing Atletico keeper Jan Oblak into a smart reflex save.

However, Messi’s goal — a landmark 600th of his illustrious career — after after 25 minutes was all his team needed to step closer to another La Liga title as he breached a stubborn Atletico defence that has only conceded 12 goals in 27 league games.

Atletico did not throw in the towel easily despite conceding either, as their manager Diego Simeone opted to pour men forward finished with four forwards in a bold 4-2-4 formation, with Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann, Kevin Gameiro and Angel Correa up front and starting to target direct long balls in the direction of Costa.

It was unlucky for the Madrid team that their striker Costa was heavily subdued by the excellent home central defensive pairing of Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti, while Griezmann couldn’t maintain his golden form after coming into the game on the back of consecutive hat-tricks.

The only possible negative of the afternoon for Barca was the loss of skipper Iniesta with a hamstring injury, which is likely to keep him out of action for around a month.

If that comes to pass, it would meant that Iniesta would not be able to feature in the second leg of the Champions League tie with Chelsea, and could also miss the first leg of the quarter-finals should Barca be able to progress after having drew 1-1 in the first leg away against the London team.

FC Barcelona held after “invisible penalty” awarded to Las Palmas

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Jonathan Calleri’s controversial penalty helped lowly Las Palmas hold La Liga leaders Barcelona by 1-1 in the Gran Canaria.

The draw maintains Barca five points above their next opponents, Atletico Madrid, while extending the Catalan club-record unbeaten league run to 33 games.

Lionel Messi had fired a free-kick into the opposite corner of the net to give Barcelona the lead.

But 3 minutes after half-time, Calleri’s excellent converted his penalty into the top corner to rescue a point for the Canary Island hosts.

There had been plenty of confusion at the decision to award the penalty to Las Palmas, who remain in the relegation zone, with the most likely reason being for a Sergi Roberto foul on Matias Aguirregaray — although the ball also hit Lucas Digne’s hand.

“The penalty came as a shock to us because of how it was awarded,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde after the game. “We felt that they equalised with an ‘invisible’ penalty. They grew stronger after that and we played in too much of a hurry.”

“We really wanted to leave here with three points. In the first half we felt we were always creating danger and their players kept on picking up yellow cards. We went ahead in the first half but it was not a big enough margin.”

Atletico Madrid was the only team of the top four sides in La Liga to win their midweek fixtures, with Antoine Griezmann scoring all the goals in a 4-0 win over Leganes.

Injury-time winner sees first Espanyol win over Real Madrid in a decade

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Real Madrid’s La Liga campaign stooped to a new low after an injury-time winner by Gerard Moreno sees Espanyol beat Real Madrid for the first time in over a decade.

Espanyol had not won a single match in 22 competitive games against Real, drawing only three of those in a run that runs back to October 2007.

Although Los Blancos had also won five games in a row ahead of the match, their below-par performance saw Espanyol dominated the game and Moreno having a first-half goal ruled out for a marginal offside call.

Real captain and defender Sergio Ramos was playing as an extra striker by the end of game as Moreno controlled Sergio Garcia’s cross before volleying the ball home.

Team coach Zinedine Zidane had rested Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of next week’s visit to Paris St-Germain in the Champions League last 16, which his side lead 3-1 from the first leg, and selected Gareth Bale at centre-forward in a much-changed team.

“When there’s not long left and it’s 0-0 anything can happen,” Zidane said. “We always look to go for the win and today we didn’t get it. They scored a goal in the last minute, but there’s no need for us to go over it again. We didn’t deserve to win or lose.”

“We were lacking a little bit in all departments. It’s a defeat that hurts and it’s a poor result. I feel sorry for the players.”

“At times, there’s no understanding football. We dropped further back for some spells in the second half but you’ve got to accept these tough times. At no point in the second half did we do well.”

Defending La Liga champions Real remain 14 points behind leaders FC Barcelona, who visit Las Palmas on Thursday in their game in hand.