A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…
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Barcelona 6-0 Sporting Gijon
For quite a while, everything was close and remained in question for Barcelona … then came the final 15 minutes of Saturday’s thrashing of Sporting Gijon, in which the Blaugrana went from 2-0 up, with the game somewhat hanging in the balance, to 6-0 in the span of 14 minutes.
Lionel Messi put the hosts ahead on 12 minutes, after which point 51 minutes passed before Luis Suarez found the back of the net for 2-0. Suarez then bagged his brace and hat trick from the penalty spot on 74 and 77 minutes, before Neymar converted a penalty kick of his own in the 86th. Suarez picked up his fourth of the game (and 34th league goal of the season) for the second straight game in the 88th minute. With the final scoreline, Barca reclaim top spot in the league table, as well as the best goal differential tally in the league, 30 ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid and one ahead of third-place Real Madrid.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Malaga
It wasn’t pretty — it rarely is for Atletico Madrid — but Diego Simeone’s side won again to keep pace with Barca, thanks to Angel Correa’s 62nd-minute winner which required a fair bit of good fortune in the form of a wicked deflection en route to finding the back of the net. The bigger story here, though, is that Simeone could be suspended three games after appearing to throw a ball onto the field with Malaga breaking out on the counter moments before halftime.
Rayo Vallecano 2-3 Real Madrid — FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS
Joining Barca and Atleti in a suddenly unbelievably tight title race is Real Madrid, who came back from 2-0 down inside the game’s first 15 minutes to knock off Rayo Vallecano away from home … without Cristiano Ronaldo or Karim Benzema, who missed the game through injuries. Los Blancos still have that guy named Gareth Bale, though, and I hear he’s pretty good at soccer (HIGHLIGHTS HERE).
Elsewhere in La Liga
Eibar vs. Deportivo La Coruña (underway)
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Levante vs. Athletic Bilbao (6 a.m. ET)
Sevilla vs. Real Betis (10 a.m. ET)
Getafe vs. Valencia (12:15 p.m. ET)
Villarreal vs. Real Sociedad (2:30 p.m. ET)
Monday’s La Liga schedule
Celta Vigo vs. Granada (2:30 p.m. ET)
Inter Milan 3-1 Udinese
Inter Milan are long-shot outsiders to finish in the top three in Italy (UEFA Champions League qualification), but they kept their faint hopes alive with a late victory over Udinese on Saturday.
Cyril Thereau put Udinese ahead after just nine minutes, but Stevan Jovetic equalized 10 minutes before halftime. With 15 minutes to play, the score remained 1-1. Jovetic broke the deadlock with his second of the day on 75 minutes, and Eder added the late insurance in the fourth minute of stoppage time to secure all three points for Roberto Mancini’s side, which looks a near-guarantee to finish fourth.
Sunday’s Serie A schedule
Frosinone vs. Palermo (6:30 a.m. ET)
Torino vs. Sassuolo (9 a.m. ET)
Atalanta vs. Chievo (9 a.m. ET)
Bologna vs. Genoa (9 a.m. ET)
Sampdoria vs. Lazio (9 a.m. ET)
Fiorentina vs. Juventus (2:45 p.m. ET)
Monday’s Serie A schedule
Roma vs. Napoli (9 a.m. ET)
Hellas Verona vs. AC Milan (11 a.m. ET)
Carpi vs. Empoli (1 p.m. ET)