Matchday 25 of LaLiga saw comfortable wins for all of the top three Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid, featuring some sensational attacking football – while there was also penalty drama at both the top and bottom of the table.
Saturday’s Catalan Derbi at the Camp Nou saw Barcelona’s two big recent signings Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele start together for the first time. A shock looked possible when neighbours Girona took a 1-0 lead through Portu after just three minutes. However Barça were soon level through Luis Suarez, and eventually ran out 6-1 winners thanks to Suarez’s hat-trick, two strikes from Lionel Messi and Coutinho’s very first LaLiga goal [a fine curling 25 yard shot]. Ernesto Valverde’s side remain seven points clear at the top of the table.
Atletico Madrid maintained a secure hold of second with a 5-2 win at Sevilla, with a fired up Diego Costa opening the scoring, Antoine Griezmann hitting a fine hat-trick [including his team’s first penalty of the LaLiga season] and Koke knocking in the fourth. Pablo Sarabia and Nolito got late consolation goals for the home side.
Third-placed Real Madrid were straightforward 4-0 winners against Alavés at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice before generously allowing teammate Karim Benzema to take a late spot-kick. Gareth Bale also netted, meaning the ‘BBC’ strike force were all on the scoresheet for the first time since April 2016.
Two goals from Santi Mina saw Valencia beat Real Sociedad 2-1 for a third straight victory to keep Los Che firmly in fourth spot. The Europa League battle remains close, with Celta Vigo 2-0 victors over Eibar, and Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo saving two penalties as his team beat Getafe 1-0.
In the relegation battle, Deportivo La Coruna manager Clarence Seedorf rued his luck after Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez superbly blocked Lucas Perez’s spot-kick in a 0-0 at Riazor. Las Palmas coach Paco Jemez was delighted with his side’s 0-0 draw at Leganes. Malaga remain bottom after they lost 1-2 at Athletic Bilbao, with Athletic goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga acrobatically pushed away Youssef En-Nesryi’s 12 yard-effort.
The action continues with a full LaLiga midweek set of fixtures, starting tomorrow evening with Real Madrid visiting Espanyol looking for a fifth straight LaLiga win. Wednesday brings two derbies – with Atlético Madrid hosting suburban neighbours Leganes at the Wanda Metropolitano, and Sevilla visiting Malaga for a well-timed ‘Andalusia Day’ meeting. Leaders Barça play on Thursday at Las Palmas, hoping to stretch their new club record unbeaten run past 32 LaLiga games.