A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:
Elche 0-6 Barcelona
Lionel Messi and Neymar each scored a pair of goals on Saturday as the Blaugrana routed 10-man Elche on the back of five second-half goals. Gerard Pique opened the scoring after 35 minutes, but Luis Enrique’s men went into halftime up just 1-0.
Messi scored his first, a penalty kick, 10 minutes after the break Elche’s Faycal Fajr was shown his second yellow card of the day two minutes later. Neymar notched his brace with goals two minutes apart in the 69th and 71st minutes before Messi (88th minute) and Pedro (93rd) completed the scoring.
Barca remain four points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid, who knocked off Cordoba on Sunday (see below link) and three points clear of third-placed Atletico Madrid.
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Rayo Vallecano
Antoine Griezmann bagged a pair of first-half goals (12th and 22nd minutes) to set Atletico on their way at Estadio Vicente Calderon. The Frenchman used a cool, left-footed strike around the goalkeeper to net his first, and a quick toe-poke underneath the ‘keeper’s legs on the second.
An own goal by Rayo’s Manucho in the 56th minute canceled out Roberto Trashorras’ pinpoint, curling effort from 20 yards 10 minutes before halftime and effectively ended any hope of a comeback.
Villarreal 1-0 Levante
Villarreal (35 points) strengthened their hold on sixth place (Europa League) and kept their chase for the fourth and final Champions League place (currently Sevilla — 39 points, one fewer game played) alive.
Luciano Vietto cut and faked his way past a pair of Levante defenders before slotting a left-footed shot beneath ‘keeper Diego Marino in the 56th minute.
[ FULL RECAP: Cordoba 1-2 Real Madrid as Ronaldo sees red, Bale saves ]
Elsewhere in La Liga
Real Sociedad 1-0 Eibar
Sunday’s La Liga schedule
Deportivo La Coruna vs. Granada (6 am ET)
Athletic Bilbao vs. Malaga (11 am ET)
Espanyol vs. Almeria (1 pm ET)
Valencia vs. Sevilla (3 pm ET)
Lazio 3-1 AC Milan
Jeremy Menez scored his 10th Serie A goal of the season as AC Milan took the lead after four minutes and looked on their way to reversing recent fortunes and beginning the climb back up the league standings.
And then the second half began, which saw the Rossoneri conceded two goals in four minutes (Marco Parolo, 47th and Miroslav Klose (right), 51st) and wave goodbye any hopes they had of leaving the Stadio Olimico with anything to show for their troubles. Parolo picked up his second of the game with nine minutes of regular time still to be played, sealing the three points for Lazio (31 points) and climbing back above Fiorentina (30) for fifth place in the league. Fourth-placed Sampdoria are just two points ahead.
Elsewhere in Serie A
Cagliari 2-1 Sassuolo
Sunday’s Serie A schedule
Inter Milan vs. Torino (9 am ET)
Hellas Verona vs. Atalanta (9 am ET)
Parma vs. Cesena (9 am ET)
Juventus vs. Chievo (9 am ET)
Sampdoria vs. Palermo (9 am ET)
Fiorentina vs. Roma (2:45 pm ET)