A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…
[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]
Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona’s quest for an unbeaten La Liga season continued in earnest on Saturday, as Lionel Messi scored his league-leading 12th goal of the still-young season to help secure all three points from a difficult test away to Athletic Bilbao. The victory keeps Barca four points clear of second-place Valencia and eight points ahead of third-place Real Madrid, who play on Sunday.
Saturday’s hosts had ample opportunity of their own to open the scoring, but missed a pair of key chances before Messi swept home a Jordi Alba cross in the 36th minute.
Paulinho put the game out of reach in the 91st minute, slotting home an empty-net rebound for his third league goal of the season.
Alaves 1-2 Valencia
Valencia maintained their best-ever start to a league season with a 2-1 win away to 19th-place Alaves. Simone Zaza bagged his ninth goal of the season (second-most behind Messi) in the 34th minute, before Alaves pulled level through Alexis Ruano in the 49th minute. Rodrigo Moreno converted from the penalty spot not long after the hour mark for Valencia’s seventh victory (to go with three draws) of the season.
Atletico Madrid 1-1 Villarreal
Atletico Madrid’s title bid is, for all intents and purposes, finished. After dropping two points to Villarreal, Diego Simeone’s side now trails Barca by eight. Angel Correa put Los Rojiblancos ahead on the hour mark, but Carlos Bacca grabbed the equalizer in the 81st minute as Villarreal moved to within three points of Atleti for the fourth and final UEFA Champions League place.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Sevilla 2-1 Leganes
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Getafe vs. Real Sociedad — 7 a.m. ET
Girona vs. Real Madrid — 11:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Levante — 1:30 p.m. ET
Malaga vs. Celta Vigo — 3:45 p.m. ET
Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay sealed places at the World Cup in Russia, while Peru clinched a berth in a playoff with New Zealand in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
That means Chile and Paraguay are out.
Ecuador 1-3 Argentina
He’s the best player in the world, and perhaps now his Argentine critics will give him his due.
Four years after Lionel Messi Argentina to the World Cup Final, the South American nation needed its ultra mega star to drag them back to the tournament.
And on the final day of qualifying, after going down a goal on the road to already eliminated Ecuador, Messi went Messi.
The 30-year-old scored a pair of first half goals to give Argentina a 2-0 lead.
Brazil 3-0 Chile
Man City’s Gabriel Jesus scored twice after Barcelona’s Paulinho opened the scoring to send Chile out of the World Cup.
Uruguay 2-1 Bolivia
The hosts were the safest unqualified side heading into the evening, and controlled the early goings before conceding a first half own goal. The man at fault, Gaston Silva, set Martin Caceres up for an equalizer before the break. Silva then set up Edinson Cavani for the go-ahead goal.
Paraguay 0-1 Venezuela
New York City FC’s Yangel Herrera ruined Paraguayan hopes of a World Cup with his goal.
Peru 1-1 Colombia
James Rodriguez, regardless of his club life, knows how to show up for Los Cafeteros. Colombia conceded an equalizer, but only needed a point. Peru will finish fifth and face New Zealand in the interconfederation playoff.
Tuesday’s U-17 World Cup action in India featured one of the bigger upsets imaginable, as Iran shocked Germany with a blowout win.
Iran had already beaten Guinea to open the group stage, and now looks set to claim Group C. Meanwhile, Brazil got a goal from Paulinho (no, not that one, he’s 29) to clinch a spot in the knockout rounds.
[ UEFA: Who’s qualified for World Cup, and who’s in the playoffs? ]
Iran 4-0 Germany
Younes Delfi scored twice in the first half as Iran claimed a second win of the tournament. Allahyar Sayyad and Vahid Namdari also recorded goals, while Germany remains on three points.
Look at this clinical work and poor defending leading up to Iran’s fourth goal, which came courtesy of Namdari.
Costa Rica 2-2 Guinea
CRC tossed away 1-0 and 2-1 leads provided by Andres Gomez and Yecxy Jarquin to snare its first point of the tournament.
Spain 4-0 Niger
Barcelona prospect Abel Ruiz bagged a brace, with Barca’s Sergio Gomez Martin and Real Madrid’s Cesar Gelabert also nabbing markers as Spain rebounded well from a 2-1 loss to Brazil.
North Korea 0-2 Brazil
Lincoln and Paulinho scored as Brazil moved to 2-0. North Korea did have it chances, though, and Brazil goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao was wise to them.
The goals were coming in hot on Day 2 at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, and there was plenty of drama to go along with it.
[ MORE: Day 1 recap, including U.S. victory, at U-17 World Cup ]
Here’s a look at how the day’s matches went in Groups C and D.
Germany 2-1 Costa Rica
Noah Awuku played hero for the Germans on Saturday with this winner (below) in the 89th minute against Los Ticos. The European giants had gone ahead inside the opening half hour of the match through Jann-Fiete Arp, but Costa Rica responded with an equalizer to make it 1-1 in the 64th minute.
Iran 3-1 Guinea
A pair of second-half finishes and a red card from Guinea’s Mohamed Camara helped Iran pull away in this clash. Allahyar Sayyad gave the Iranians the lead just prior to the hour mark with a stunning blast from the edge of the penalty area (below), before Mohammad Sharifi’s penalty kick 11 minutes later sealed the deal for the AFC nation. Guinea managed to pull back a goal late through Fandje Toure in the 91st minute, which came a minute after Iran found its third of the day.
Brazil 2-1 Spain
It was a dream start for the Spanish (or a disaster if you’re Brazil), but Lincoln and Paulinho (nope, not that one) rescued the young Brazilian side late in the first half. Paulinho’s finish in first-half stoppage time (below) proved to be the winner, after being played through on a fantastic through ball from Marcos Antonio.
North Korea 0-1 Niger
For a game that only saw one goal, it was a pretty entertaining fixture from an action standpoint. The two sides combined for 36 shots, but it was just one from Salim Abdourahmane that found the back of the net and gave Niger its first win in the competition. It was a bad mistake defensively by Cha Kwang that allowed Habibou Sofiane to gather the ball, before finding Abdourahmane inside the penalty area.
Lionel Messi scored four times as Barcelona belted Eibar 6-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old now has 522 goals for Barca, including nine in five league matches this season. That includes two hat tricks.
[ MORE: Klopp rages at defending ]
Paulinho and Denis Suarez also scored for Barca, which is yet to lose a point in La Liga play.
Messi scored a penalty to start the scoring, then started a combination play before scooting into the 18 to score low and left.
Watch the movement from the Argentine magician.
Messi added his second when he drew the defenders and keeper to play him straight-on, then used the outside of his boot to flick a deft finish home.
He’d later dash to the doorstep to complete the 6-1 scoreline.
And how often do we see this? Messi starting and finishing a combination. When you’re an elite player who also thirsts for goals every minute on the pitch, you’ll score a few.