A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…
Barcelona 4-1 Villarreal
Barca and Real Madrid remain tied, now on 84 points, as La Liga’s title race begins the final sprint to the finish (Barca have just two games remaining). Each of the title hopefuls won in convincing fashion on Saturday. First up, it was Luis Enrique’s Blaugrana.
First up for Barca was Neymar, who put the home side 1-0 up in the 21st minute. Cedric Bakambu pulled Villarreal level 11 minutes later, but Lionel Messi bagged 50th goal of the season, and what would turn out to be the winner, just before halftime.
Luis Suarez made it 3-0 halfway through the second half, and Messi bagged no. 51, from the penalty spot, with exquisite style, not long before full-time. The Barcelona freight train is moving full-steam ahead, hoping against all likelihood for a slip-up that’ll hand them their 25th league title.
Granada 0-4 Real Madrid
Madrid’s game in hand, which won’t be played until May 17 (away to 11th-place Celta Vigo), seems almost certain to decide the 2016-17 La Liga champions, as Barca hold onto the top spot by virtue of their better record in head-to-head matchups this season. On Saturday, there was absolutely nothing that 19th-place Granada, who were relegated last weekend, could do to slow down a side that omitted Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric from the starting lineup. As it turns out, Madrid’s backups are also quite talented.
James Rodriguez put Los Blancos ahead in the 3rd minute and doubled the advantage just eight minutes later.
Another quick double, this one by Alvaro Morata, made it 3-0 and 4-0 in the 30th and 35th minutes, and that was that. Game over after barely half an hour.
Elsewhere in La Liga
Sporting Gijon 1-0 Las Palmas
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Eibar
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Alaves vs. Athletic Bilbao — 6 a.m. ET
Valencia vs. Osasuna — 10:15 a.m. ET
Deportivo La Coruña vs. Espanyol — 12:30 p.m. ET
Malaga vs. Celta Vigo — 2:45 p.m. ET
Monday’s La Liga schedule
Leganes vs. Real Betis — 2:45 p.m. ET