A brilliant fightback from Real Madrid, and Barcelona thrash Sporting 6-1 – Matchday Review 01/03/17

In the early kick offs, Barcelona kept up the pressure on league leaders Real Madrid with a convincing 6-1 win against Sporting Gijón at the Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi opened the scoring for the home side, and surprisingly it wasn’t with his feet. A beautiful ball over the top of the Sporting defence from Mascherano picked out the Argentine, who was left on his own in the box, and with a brilliant dinked header he brought Barca 1-0 up.

It wouldn’t stay like that for long, as just two minutes later they had got a second. Luis Suarez this time was the one to get in behind, and after rounding the keeper, his shot was converted by Gijón defender Rodriguez’s attempted clearance.

Sporting, who were fielding a weakened side to begin with, would get one back, as Castro was first to Alvarez’s shot off the post to give the away side some hope. But that hope was quickly dashed just six minutes later as Luis Suarez would volley home expertly from inside the box after a poor header from Babin.

 

The second half was all Barcelona, with the Catalans adding three more goals to their total. Paco Alcacer came off the bench to score early into the half after a great ball from Lionel Messi.

Probably the goal of the night came from a special free-kick by Neymar. Positioned on the wrong side for a right footer, the Brazilian was able curl the ball outside the wall and pick out the corner, with Cuellar only able to punch the ball into the net to help it on its way.

Ivan Rakitic added one in the dying minutes with a powerful shot from a tight angle, to put Barca top of the league, with Real Madrid playing later in the night.

In the other early kick off, Villarreal secured a 4-1 victory over bottom of the table Osasuna. Roberto Soriano opened the scoring in just the second minute, before a returning Roberto Soldado converted from the spot.

Osasuna got one back with a penalty of their own from Roberto Torres in the 64th minute, but 10 minutes later Villarreal took back control of the game with a goal from substitute Rafael Santos Borre.

Borre got his second and his sides fourth minutes later to continue their push for a Champions League place.

 

Into the later kick-offs, and after seeing Barcelona momentarily go top of the league, Real Madrid knew that a win was necessary. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t look like Las Palmas read the script, as the two sides drew 3-3 in what was an incredibly entertaining match at the Bernabéu.

It seemed as if Real had made the perfect start, as after just two minutes, Morata had put the ball into the back of the net, only for it be disallowed for offside, something that will be a common theme for the Spaniard as the game went on.

The home side would make the break through in the 8th minute through Isco, who was slipped in behind by Kovačić, and the midfielder was able to cooly finish into the bottom right corner.

But just two minutes later, Las Palmas were level. Some lovely build-up play led to Tana turning his man, then firing a wonderful shot past Navas at the near post. A moment of brilliance from Las Palmas which left Madrid stunned.

Just like earlier in the game, Morata would have another goal disallowed a minute after the goal. A clever flick from Ronaldo sent the Spaniard through, who was able to find the bottom corner, but again it was called to be offside.

 

After such a hectic start to the half, the game seemed to calm down for the rest of the half. That would change in the second half, however, when Gareth Bale was given a red card for a push on Jonathan Viera. The Welshman was called up for clipping at the heels of the winger, which would have been enough for a yellow card, but his reaction afterwards was one he’ll regret, and for it he was given his marching orders and put Real Madrid down to 10 men.

Las Palmas would take advantage of the extra man, as in the 56th minute they had been awarded a penalty. A pretty blatant diving save from Sergio Ramos to stop a cross in is what it was awarded for, and Viera was able to convert to give the away side an unexpected lead.

Three minutes later and it was three! A moment of madness from the Madrid defence as they pushed way too far forward, and Kevin-Prince Boateng was through on goal with only Marcelo giving chase. Keylor Navas came rushing out to get the ball, but Boateng was able to expertly touch it around the goalkeeper and then finish into an empty net to make it 3-1.

From this point it looked like Real Madrid had given up a golden opportunity to get some leeway at the top with a game in hand. Las Palmas were defending well, and as the game came to a close, it looked like it was game over. But in the 86th minute, they were given the opportunity to get back into the game.

A handball from Castellano meant Real were given a penalty, and Cristiano Ronaldo was never going to miss, making it 3-2.

And in the 89th minute, the Portuguese winger completed the comeback for his side. The ball in from the right from James Rodriguez finds Ronaldo, who rises higher than anyone and heads a thumping effort past Javi Varas in the Las Palmas net.

A remarkable end to a wonderful game of football, but for Madrid, it must be seen as two points lost, rather than one point gained.

 

In the nights other games, Espanyol came from behind twice to draw with Celta Vigo 2-2.

The top scoring Spanish player in La Liga this season, Iago Aspas, opened the scoring for Celta with a beauty of a free-kick. From just outside the box, the striker was able to get power and curl on the ball to pick out the top corner, leaving Lopez left standing in goal.

Espanyol were level in the 28th minute, as Gerard Moreno headed home from a corner, flicking it onto the far post, giving Blanco no chance.

But just two minutes later and Celta were back in the lead. It came from a wonder-strike from Daniel Wass from around 25-yards, a goal you should definitely take a look out when you have the chance.

Just minutes later, Espanyol had brought it back level once again, this time through Pablo Piatti. Another brilliant strike, this time from close range, as he was able to get on the end of Caicedo’s flick on before firing a lethal shot at the near post from a tight angle.

All the action happened in the first half, including a red card for Celta’s Andreu Fontas for a second yellow from a handball.

 

Finally, Granada got a valuable three points in a 2-1 win against Alavés, as they try to get out of the relegation zone.

I’ve talked about wonderful goals a lot in this review, but I think Wakaso Mubarak may have taken the medal for the best. With the ball deflected to just outside the box, the midfielder hit it on the volley low and with power, and the ball just skipped across the surface and into the bottom corner. Another goal you need to make sure to see.

Former Barcelona man Isaac Cuenca made it two early into the second half with another brillaint strike. The midfielder plucked the ball out of the air, touching it past the defender with his chest, before volleying it with the outside of his boot and picking out the far corner.

Alavés would get one back through Victor Camarasa, but it would not be enough to get back into the game.

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