Unbeaten Barcelona and Valencia set the pace
PACO ALCÁCER stole the show in Lionel Messi’s 600th game for BARCELONA as his two goals were enough to see off SEVILLA 2-1 at the Camp Nou. Barça were rewarded for a blistering start when Alcácer took advantage of an error from Sevilla captain Sergio Escudero, who needlessly lost possession, to coolly slot the ball under David Soria after 23 minutes. The Andalusians responded strongly after the break and drew level on the hour mark through Guido Pizarro, but Alcácer made sure of victory six minutes later when turning home Ivan Rakitic’s perfect cross at near post. The Catalans remain top, four points clear of secondplaced Valencia.
VALENCIA recorded a seventh straight league win and remain unbeaten this season after comfortably disposing of LEGANÉS 3-0 at Mestalla. Dani Parejo opened the scoring with a free-kick on 14 minutes, prompting calls for his inclusion in the Spain squad, before Rodrigo Moreno double Los Che’s lead with a header into the top corner 19 minutes from time. Santi Mina put the icing on the cake for the hosts in the 82nd minute by converting from the penalty spot after a foul by Diego Rico. The result was made all the more impressive by Leganés possessing La Liga’s secondbest defence before the game.
REAL MADRID returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win over LAS PALMAS at the Santiago Bernabéu. Los Blancos had lost their last two games, against Girona and Tottenham Hotspur, but Casemiro got them on their way after 41 minutes when he headed home the opening goal. Marcos Asensio made it 2-0 shortly after half-time, striking a ferocious first-time effort from long range, and Isco rounded off the scoring in the 74th minute when he slotted in Ronaldo’s low delivery. Real are now third, level on points with Atlético Madrid, and eight points behind leaders Barcelona.
Newly-promoted GIRONA moved into the top half of the table after following up last week’s shock win over Real Madrid with a 2-1 success at LEVANTE. Borja García opened the scoring for Girona on 58 minutes with a rocket shot into the top corner, before former Middlesbrough striker Cristhian Stuani doubled the advantage six mintues from time when tucking home from close range for his sixth goal of the season. Enes Unal claimed a late consolation for the hosts with a powerful header but Levante slipped to a second home defeat this term.
CELTA VIGO ended a run of successive defeats by sweeping aside ATHLETIC BILBAO 3-1 at Balaídos. The sides were level on 11 points at kickoff, but it was Celta who raced into a three-goal lead inside the opening 26 minutes. Sergi Gómez got the ball rolling after 15 minutes and a brace from Spain forward Iago Aspas effectively killed the game. Los Leones did pull one back just before the break through Raúl García, but that was as good as it got for Athletic, who have now lost four in a row.
REAL SOCIEDAD emerged 3-1 victors at Anoeta in the Basque derby against EIBAR, who have now gone seven games without a win. A Willian José header from a right-wing cross and Adnan Januzaj’s tap-in put La Real out of sight within 28 minutes, while Mikel Oyarzabal killed off the visitors once and for all with a goal almost immediately after the restart. Joan Jordán pulled one back on 71 minutes for Los Armeros, but they have not picked up three points since a 1-0 defeat of Leganés in mid-September.
VILLARREAL made it four wins in five league games under Javi Calleja with a 2-0 victory over struggling MÁLAGA at the Estadio de la Cerámica. However, it took until the 68th minute for the Yellow Submarine to finally break down a resilient Málaga defence, Nicola Sansone heading home from close in, and the Italian was on the mark again eight minutes later when racing clear to slot home. It was enough to move the Yellow Submarine into the top five, while Los Blanquiazules fell to bottom and are still without a goal on their travels this season.
REAL BETIS needed to come from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw with GETAFE at the Benito Villamarín. Los Béticos’ hopes of fifth home win in six games looked to be in tatters during a first half in which Markel Bergara netted for the Madrid side and a goal from Francisco Portillo – against his former team – seemingly fired Getafe to a second straight win. Nonetheless, a second away win of the campaign proved beyond them as Betis boss Quique Setién saw his 63rd-minute introduction of Antonio Sanabria and Ryad Boudebouz pay dividends. Sanabria halved the deficit when he drilled home a low shot just five minutes after coming on for his seventh goal of the campaign, before fellow substitute Boudebouz crashed home the equaliser with three minutes remaining.
ATLÉTICO MADRID needed a goal in stoppage time to see off DEPORTIVO LA CORUÑA 1-0 in a hard-fought contest at Riazor. After a first half which saw neither team manage a shot on target, there was not much more entertainment after the restart, with Antoine Griezmann missing Atleti’s best chance early in the second period. However, Diego Simeone’s men grabbed all three points when Thomas Partey found the top corner in the 91st minute with a side-footed shot. The result earned Los Rojiblancos a second win in nine matches and ended a run of three consecutive draws in the league and Copa del Rey.
ALAVÉS lifted themselves off the bottom with a 1-0 home triumph over
– their first of the season at Mendizorroza. Christian Santos needed barely a minute to secure the three points for Gianni De Biasi’s team, the Venezuelan striker’s left-footed shot from inside the penalty area finding the net following a corner. Espanyol’s cause was not helped when defender Mario Hermoso was sent off five minutes before half-time for a second bookable offence.
Paco Alcácer stole the show in Barcelona's win over Sevilla ESPANYOL