La Liga: Messi’s 500th Barca appearance a win, side ends 2015 top

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A roundup of all of the day’s action as Spain’s top flight returned on Wednesday:

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Barcelona 4-0 Real Betis

Lionel Messi marked his 500th appearance for Barcelona (all competitions) with his 425th goal for the club (first video below), en route to a resounding victory that sees the Catalan club finish 2015 top of La Liga. 425 goals in 500 games — that’s astounding, even for the undisputed best player in the world (of all time?). The pick of Barca’s four goals, though, was Luis Suarez’s second of the game (second video below). Neymar’s brilliant spin and flick to the Uruguayan needs to be viewed over and over and over again to be fully appreciated. The victory keeps the Blaugrana top of the league, ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal differential (+25 to +16). It also means Barca are unbeaten in their last nine league games (seven wins).

Rayo Vallecano 0-2 Atletico Madrid

Atleti left it all very, very, very late for themselves away to 18th-place Rayo Vallecano, but 88th- and 90th-minute goals scored by Angel Correa (below video) and Antoine Griezmann secured all three points for the Rojiblancos (38 points), who can claim top spot in their own city to end 2015. The goal was Griezmann’s ninth of the season. With only 17 games played thus far, he’s almost perfectly on pace to equal his total of 22 in his debut season for Atleti, last season. Atleti have won eight of their last 10 league games (one draw, one loss).

Real Madrid 3-1 Real Sociedad

Two points back of Atleti, in third, you’ll find Real Madrid, who likewise finished 2015 in victorious fashion. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first two Madrid goals, which included an impressive volley for the game-winner in the 67th minute (below video). 24-year-old Lucas Vasquez scored the third, his first goal for the Real Madrid first team after coming through the club’s youth academy. Despite having won four of their last five league games (one loss), the pressure on manager Rafa Benitez is unlikely to subside anytime soon.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 0-1 Malaga
Sevilla 2-0 Espanyol
Eibar 2-0 Sporting Gijon
Celta Vigo 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
Getafe 0-0 Deportivo La Coruna
Las Palmas 4-0 Granada

Thursday’s La Liga schedule

Villarreal vs. Valencia (10 a.m. ET)