A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:
[ MORE: Barca favorites in Copa del Rey ]
Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid — (RECAP)
Barcelona’s advantage atop the La Liga table grew a great on Saturday, as the Blaugrana knocked off second-place Atletico Madrid 2-1 and the Camp Nou. Ahead of kickoff of Saturday, Barca’s advantage was their game in hand over both Atleti and Real Madrid. At the end of day Saturday, that advantage stands at three points and a game in hand over Atleti.
Atleti went ahead through Koke’s opener in the 10th minute before Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez bagged goals eight minutes apart after the half-hour mark. The two Barca goalscorers were the targets of reckless challenges through, which eventually resulted in Atleti finishing the game with just nine men (FULL RECAP for more details and highlights).
Villarreal 1-0 Granada
Villarreal’s quest to return to the UEFA Champions League continued on Saturday, as El Submarino Amarillo (The Yellow Submarine) narrowly defeated 16th-place Granada. Bruno scored the game’s only goal, from the penalty spot, in the 55th minute to extend Villarreal’s unbeaten run to nine games in the league (seven wins).
Villarreal now have a 10-point advantage over Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo for the fourth and final Champions League place.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Getafo 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
Eibar 1-2 Malaga
Real Sociedad 2-1 Real Betis
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Sevilla vs. Levante (6 a.m. ET)
Valencia vs. Sporting Gijon (10 a.m. ET)
Las Palmas vs. Celta Vigo (12:15 p.m. ET)
Real Madrid vs. Espanyol (2:30 p.m. ET)
Roma 3-1 Frosinone
Stephan El Shaarawy is back. You remember him, right? You know, the spiky-haired wonderkid who burst onto the scene about three years ago as a 20-year-old and rocketed to the top of the “future superstars of the world” list. Well, about that… it’s been a pretty forgettable two and a half years for El Shaarawy, who faltered badly for two straight seasons before leaving AC Milan for the riches of Monaco.
France’s southern principality didn’t exactly work out well for El Shaarawy, either, so now he’s back in Italy. On Saturday, he made his debut for Roma and — wouldn’t you know it — scored the game-winning goal (below video) in the Giallorossi‘s 3-1 victory over Frosinone. In typical El Shaarawy fashion, it wasn’t just any goal; it was a spinning, back-heeled effort from 12 yards out to beat the goalkeeper at the near post. Long live El Shaarawy.
Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic were the other goalscorers for Roma, who are still the fifth-place side in Serie A, nine points back of leaders Napoli and three back of Fiorentina for the third and final Champions League place, but El Shaarawy’s arrival could be the spark they’ve been waiting for all season.
Elsewhere in Serie A
Carpi 1-1 Palermo
Atalanta 1-1 Sassuolo
Sunday’s Serie A schedule
Chievo vs. Juventus (6:30 a.m. ET)
Napoli vs. Empoli (9 a.m. ET)
Genoa vs. Fiorentina (9 a.m. ET)
Torino vs. Hellas Verona (9 a.m. ET)
Udinese vs. Lazio (9 a.m. ET)
Bologna vs. Sampdoria (9 a.m. ET)
AC Milan vs. Inter Milan (2:45 p.m. ET)