Spain roundup: Top three all win as Ronaldo, Costa, Messi shine

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There are no style points on the board, though goal differential is close. By those measures, Barcelona made a statement regarding the La Liga title race as the top three all picked up wins but Barca’s was a stomping.

Lionel Messi became Barcelona’s all-time leading goal scorer when he slotted home the second goal of his hat trick in the Blaugrana’s 7-0 shellacking of 15th place Osasuna. Click the link and watch the video if only for Andres Iniesta’s left-footed stunner to make the score 3-0.

Barca was Barca again, boosting their league-best goal differential to 59. Perhaps  buoyed by topping Manchester City mid-week, it was certainly a different side than the club dispatched by Valladolid last weekend. Cristian Tello, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez also scored for Barcelona, which had a 3-0 at the break.

Real Madrid won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Malaga thanks to a 23rd minute marker by Cristiano Ronaldo, but it wasn’t close to their finest. The club’s unbeaten run in La Liga is now at 30 matches, and perhaps they were looking ahead to their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg with Schalke on Tuesday… but who are we kidding? They are up 6-1. It was just an off day for the club whose goal differential sits at 51.

Atletico stayed three back of Real and a point ahead of Barca with a 1-0 win of its own. Diego Costa put home a David Villa pass for the match’s only goal, as Atletico stayed unbeaten at home this season. It was a nice bit of pass and pace, as Costa simply outraced Espanyol defender Diego Colotto for the ball.

Elsewhere

  • Getafe 3-3 Granada — The goals started in the sixth minute and kept coming all night as Getafe let three leads disappear. Moroccan forward Youssef El Arabi bagged a brace in the comeback(s).
  • Levante 0-1 Celta Vigo — Nolito’s 19th minute goal moved the visiting side five points clear of the drop.
  • Rayo Vallecano 3-1 Almeria — Joaquin Larrivey’s brace vaulted Rayo out of the relegation zone and placed the visitors La Liga future in peril
  • Elche 0-0 Real Betis — Full credit to Betis, who keeps picking up points despite an unlikely bottom position nine points from safety. Elche carried 64 percent possession in the draw.
  • Sevilla 4-1 Valladolid — Kevin Gameiro stayed hot, striking twice, while Ivan Rakitic and Diogo Figueiras also netted for Sevilla. Javi Guerra scored late for the visitors.
  • Real Sociedad 1-0 Valencia — Sociedad is within five points of a Champions League spot thanks to Imanol Agirretxe’s 61st minute marker.
  • Villarreal vs. Athletic — Monday

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Real Madrid 28 22 4 2 77 26 51 12-0-1 10-4-1 70
Atlético Madrid 28 21 4 3 64 21 43 12-3-0 9-1-3 67
Barcelona 28 21 3 4 81 22 59 13-0-1 8-3-3 66
Athletic 27 15 6 6 50 31 19 10-3-1 5-3-5 51
Real Sociedad 28 13 7 8 49 39 10 9-3-2 4-4-6 46
Villarreal 27 13 5 9 47 33 14 7-4-3 6-1-6 44
Sevilla 28 12 8 8 51 43 8 7-3-4 5-5-4 44
Valencia 28 10 6 12 39 39 0 7-3-4 3-3-8 36
Espanyol 28 10 6 12 32 34 -2 7-2-5 3-4-7 36
Levante 28 9 9 10 26 35 -9 5-5-4 4-4-6 36
Celta Vigo 28 9 6 13 33 39 -6 3-6-5 6-0-8 33
Granada 28 9 4 15 27 39 -12 5-1-8 4-3-7 31
Elche 28 7 9 12 24 40 -16 5-5-5 2-4-7 30
Málaga 28 7 8 13 26 36 -10 5-2-7 2-6-6 29
Osasuna 28 8 5 15 24 48 -24 5-2-6 3-3-9 29
Rayo Vallecano 28 9 2 17 32 62 -30 5-0-9 4-2-8 29
Getafe 28 7 7 14 26 45 -19 4-6-5 3-1-9 28
Valladolid 28 5 11 12 30 48 -18 4-6-3 1-5-9 26
Almería 28 7 5 16 27 52 -25 4-4-5 3-1-11 26
Betis 28 4 7 17 23 56 -33 4-3-7 0-4-10 19

Carlos Vela scored a celestial goal. We are blessed to have seen it

Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images
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Carlos Vela is making all other spectacular individual MLS seasons look run of the mill.

I mean, look at the gumption on this guy.

[ VIDEO: Rooney sent off, Kamara scores golazo ]

The Cancun-born playmaker left the San Jose Earthquakes back line on the beach with a soft shoe routine to give LAFC its third goal in a 4-0 win on Thursday

Vela, 30, now has 25 goals and 11 assists in 25 league matches for LAFC this season. He added two goals and an assist in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

But this one, yeah, this one takes the cake.

First, there’s Vela’s non-chalant dummy before picking up the pass.

Then, there’s Florian Jungwirth’s body language during and after his being cooked with a nutmeg. That’s an entire mood.

Next, Vela dribbles around the keeper and allows a slide tackler so glide past him before finishing with aplomb, the magic touch his going near post as if to say, “Can I beat this guy a second time, or do I have to use the easier route?”

Diego Rossi also had a goal and an assist, while Mark-Anthony Kaye continued his strong season with an assist to ex-Fiorentina prospect Joshua Perez. It’s a first MLS goal for the California-born Perez, now 21.

WATCH: Rooney sees red for forearm shiver, Kamara scores golazo

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Midweek MLS provided plenty to talk about on Wednesday, with two red cards and a golazo in one match alone.

The two main talking points from the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over DC United weren’t really part of what led the victors to three points.

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How? Well, one of the world’s marquee names earned a red card via VAR and a returning star scores an absolute stunner, that’s how.

Here’s Ola Kamara’s debut marker for the Black-and-Red, adding to a record which included 49 goals in 97 matches between Columbus and the LA Galaxy before moving to the Chinese Super League for a wildly disappointing time with Shenzhen FC.

All of that is forgotten.

As for the Rooney incident, the Red Bulls already led 1-0 when DC’s star striker went forearm shiver on Cristian Casseres Jr.

It’s the second red of the season for Rooney, who is set for Derby County in January.

Amro Tarek was later sent off for the Red Bulls, who moved ahead of DC in the standings. Kaku and Daniel Royer had RBNY’s goals.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

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The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.

Messi back in training, could be fit for Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi was back in full training again on Wednesday and may be fit to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Messi had been training separately from the squad since injuring his right calf in the preseason.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener on Friday.

Barcelona has not said how long it expects Messi to be sidelined.

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Coach Ernesto Valverde is also dealing with injuries to forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Dembele is certain to miss Sunday’s match at the Camp Nou because of a left thigh injury that should keep him out for about five weeks.

Suarez also isn’t likely to play this weekend because of a muscle injury sustained before halftime of Friday’s game in Bilbao.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona hadn’t loss a league opener in 10 seasons.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports