Eibar

Getty Images

La Liga roundup: Messi ties Ronaldo’s La Liga hat-trick record (video)

2 Comments

Lionel Messi’s emphatic performance against Celta Vigo highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Barcelona 4-1 Celta Vigo

There’s great, and then there’s Lionel Messi great.

Against Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Saturday, the Argentine put together one of his finest performances this season, scoring a hat-trick in 48 minutes that included two free kicks. The hat trick marks Messi’s 34th of his La Liga career (459 games), tying Cristiano Ronaldo’s record.

“It’s clear that when it’s so close we have the advantage of having the best player in the world and the best free-kick taker in the world,” teammate Sergio Busquets said following the game. “He’s been improving and that’s an advantage, I hope he keeps scoring them.”

 

Messi opened the scoring in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot, only to commit the foul that would lead to Celta’s equalizer  – a well-placed free kick from Lucas Olaza – three minutes before the end of the second half.

If anything, the yellow card he earned and subsequent goal from the visitors served as motivation for Messi, because magic from Barcelona’s No. 10 was on its way.

Minutes before the whistle that would see both sides head into their respective dressing rooms, Messi netted his first well-stuck free kick. Minutes after both teams took the field after the break, his second inch-perfect free kick found the back of net. Both free kicks were fired over the wall and curled into the top corner.

Messi has scored nine goals in his last seven games throughout all competitions. With eight league goals to his name, only Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has more goals than Messi’s seven this season.

In the 85th minute, Busquets’ strike from the top of the 18-yard mark helped Barcelona seal their victory, ending a two-game winless streak in league play.

Barcelona, who are now level with rivals Real Madrid with 25 points, travel to Leganes following the international break, defending, while Celta Vigo, who continue in a crisis despite recently appointing Oscar Garcia Junyent as manager, will look for their third win of the season against Villarreal.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Eibar 0 – 4 Real Madrid 

Alaves 3-0 Real Valladolid 

Valencia 2-0 Granada

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win, go level on points with Barcelona (video)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Atletico Madrid’s victory over Athletic Bilbao, inspired by Angel Correa’s genius, highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Atletico Madrid 4-2 Granada

Diego Simeone took what many would consider to be a gamble prior to Saturday’s first whistle: starting Angel Correa over Diego Costa, Atletico’s goal scoring machine.

By the 64th minute, however, everyone at the Wanda Metropolitana and Simeone himself knew that the right choice was made. Correa – a low light coming into Saturday’s game – contributed the assists on both goals that handed Los Colchoneros their fifth win of the season.

Early on, it was Jan Oblak to the rescue, as Athletic’s attack cracked the home side’s backline. Specifically, the Slovenian showed off his impeccable abilities when, Iñigo Martínez’s header from a corner kick set piece, was just tipped over the crossbar.

The Basque’s club dominance wouldn’t last long.

In the 28th minute, following some mesmerizingly quick faints inside the penalty box, Correa laid it off to Saul, who made no mistake and put it into the back of net. It was the start of the Argentine’s special night.

Following a slew of uninterrupted passes, it was Correa again making the penultimate effort. This time, his darting, crossing service within the box found a well-positioned Alvaro Morata, who gently tapped the ball into the back of the net.

With the postponement of El Clasico, which was done because Catalan separatists are planning another large rally in Barcelona, Atletico will share the podium with leaders Barcelona for at least a week after their win against Athletic Bilbao, who host Espanyol next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Leganes 1-0 RCD Mallorca 

Valladolid 2-0 Eibar

La Liga Roundup: Bale scores brace, salvages draw for Real Madrid

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gareth Bale and Joao Felix headline Sunday’s La Liga action.

[ MORE: Atletico’s Felix scores first La Liga goal ]

Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid

Just a couple of months ago, Zinedine Zidane made it clear it’d be “best for everyone” for Gareth Bale to leave Real Madrid amid a reported lucrative move to China. On Sunday, Spain’s most dramatized transfer saga this summer didn’t matter, as the Welshman showcased glimpses of former glory with his two-goal performance against Villarreal, securing a vital point for Los Merengues. 

Bale opened his account with the final touch of the first half, slotting in a delicate pass from Dani Carvajal into the net. His second goal, though, rolled back the years. Inside the box, with the ball tightly tucked on his preferred left foot, the Welshman’s perfectly-placed ball was impossible for Andres Fernandez to save.

The night wasn’t perfect for Bale, however.

Right before the final whistle, the 30-year-old was sent off after seeing his second yellow card of the night.

Of course, Bale coming to rescue wouldn’t be a talking point unless the hosts had done their fair share of work, which they did. In the 74th minute, Moi Gomez had all but sealed the game for El Submarino Amarillo. 12 minutes in, Gerard Moreno tallied his third of the season in just as many games.

Without Bale, Real Madrid host Levante next, while Villarreal look to secure their first win of the season against the league’s bottom-dwellers, Leganes.

Atletico Madrid 3-2 Eibar 

Joao Felix did open his La Liga account, but Atletico’s big moment came in the final stages of the match, when Thomas Party’s determined run into the box resulted in a last-second, game-winning goal for the home side.

Diego Simeone’s side are now La Liga’s clear-cut leaders, winning three straight games to start the season.

Eibar started off strong, finishing two of the three chances they created in the first half. But as the clocked ticked, the visitors lost their effectiveness, despite it being a quiet night for Los Colchoneros in terms of generating a plethora of looks at goal.

Like Felix and Partey, Vitolo contributed his second goal of the season, leveling the score in the 52nd minute. Renan Lodi and Diego Costa assisted on Sunday.

The league leaders will look to continue their applaudable run of form as they travel to San Sebastian to take on Real Sociedad, following the conclusion of the international break. Eibar, on the other hand, host an equally-struggling Espanyol.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Valencia 2-0 RCD Mallorca

Espanyol 0-3 Granada

West Ham amongst two to have Gomez bids accepted

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

West Ham United’s commitment to taking the next step is pretty clear, and the Irons may have finally found their big, young European striker.

Maxi Gomez, 22, has scored 32 times with 10 assists in two seasons at Celta Vigo, and has his choices down to Valencia and West Ham.

Both clubs have seen $36.5 million accepted by Celta Vigo, and now it’s down to the player to choose between testing the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.

Should West Ham add Gomez, it will be the second $30 million-plus buy of the summer and add to last summer’s record-breaking purchase of Felipe Anderson. Pablo Fornals joined the Irons earlier this week.

He scored against both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid last season, and both Barca and Real Madrid the previous season. Gomez made the Uruguayan squad for the 2018 World Cup, making two appearances off the bench, and has scored twice in 12 caps.

West Ham has a decent striker in Marko Arnautovic, but the 30-year-old has been mercurial at best in his commitment to the club. Andy Carroll is leaving the club this summer.

The club has also placed a $15 million bid for another La Liga player, 24-year-old midfielder Joan Jordan of Eibar.

A more box-to-box player with attacking and wing experience, Jordan scored four times with four assists last season. He was linked with Arsenal during the season.

La Liga: Morata double helps Atletico Madrid keep La Liga pace

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A pair of Alvaro Morata headers was all Atletico Madrid needed to move past Real Sociedad 2-0 and keep pace with Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table.

Morata scored his brace three minutes apart just past the half-hour mark, setting Atleti up for the rest of the match. They would fall a man down on 61 minutes as Koke earned his second yellow card, but they held on for not just the win but the clean sheet as well. Thanks in large part to the half-hour man advantage, Real Sociedad out-shot Madrid 19-8, but could only muster three on target.

The win leaves Atleti seven behind Barcelona, but keeps pace with the La Liga leaders with 12 matches to go. Atletico has won three games in a row and has the club’s third three-match league winning streak since the start of December after failing to generate one at all before that time.

Leandro Cabrera headed Getafe into the lead 20 minutes in, and Jaime Mata put the game away just before halftime in a 2-1 road win at Real Betis to keep the visitors in a Champions League place. While Betis held 65% of the possession, they managed just six total shots, with only two on target.

Eibar picked up all three points as Sergi Enrich scored in the 87th minute to secure a 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo. The home side completely dominated the match, pummeling relegation-threatened Celta Vigo with 15 shots, coming close multiple times in the second half including a 67th minute penalty miss by Charles before the late winner when Marc Cardona did all the hard work weaving through defenders down the left before his blocked shot fell right to Enrich on the doorstep for the tap-in.

The win does more harm to Celta Vigo than help Eibar, as the visitors are still just two points above the relegation zone. Eibar, meanwhile, sits in no-man’s land in ninth, eight back of a Champions League place and 11 above the drop.

Finally, in the late Sunday game, a timid first-half between Valencia and Athletic Bilbao gave way to a 2-0 win for the hosts as Rodrigo scored just after the break and Kevin Gameiro finished it off late. The victory moved Valencia up to seventh just a point behind Sevilla.