Gareth Bale's Golazo and the Greatest World Football Moments of the Weekend
Real Madrid haven't had much to cheer about in the past week, which saw back-to-back defeats against Barcelona and Sevilla.
However, Los Blancos made amends with a rousing 5-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday in which Gareth Bale atoned for his disappointing recent form with two goals and an assist.
Gareth Bale Lived Up to His Price Tag
After two disappointing performances last week for which he received much criticism, Gareth Bale had a pretty decent day at the office on Saturday.
During Real Madrid's 5-0 win over Rayo Vallecano, the Welshman scored two goals in two minutes and provided an assist, turning in a Man of the Match performance.
His first goal was a simple tap-in, but his second involved a 64-metre dash from inside his own half to beat Rayo keeper Ruben.
Bale's day was slightly blemished, however, by this embarrassing trip in front of goal.
Bale's goal wasn't the only stunner of the day, as Alvaro Morata curled in a beauty with 12 minutes to go.
Rayo Vallecano's Jose Carlos Showed Spectacular Control
Real Madrid's Galacticos weren't the only ones capable of impressive skill at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Rayo's Jose Carlos came on in the 25th minute, and his first touch was a sublime back-heel flick to control a long ball. Now that's showboating!
Brendan Rodgers Became "The Carefully Chosen One"
With Manchester City being held by Arsenal and Chelsea losing at Crystal Palace, Liverpool knew they would go top of the Premier League with a victory over Tottenham.
The Reds seized the opportunity with a resplendent 4-0 victory led by yet another excellent performance from Luis Suarez.
By netting his 29th goal of the campaign the Uruguayan became Liverpool's all-time leading scorer for a single Premier League season (with six games to go!) and is on course to break the Premier League Golden Boot record of 34 goals (jointly held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer, back in those days when the league had 22 teams).
One of the most impressive aspects of Liverpool's season is the manner in which Brendan Rodgers has coaxed such excellent form from the likes of Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson. One fan cheekily riffed on David Moyes' situation by calling him "The Carefully Chosen One."
Jose Mourinho Berated a Ball Boy
Jose Mourinho has been telling us Chelsea are not in the title race for weeks, but Chelsea's unconvincing performance at Crystal Palace helped to make his prophecy more convincing.
A John Terry own goal capped a miserable afternoon for the Blues defender, but full credit must be given to a Crystal Palace side that played high-tempo football and continually posed danger.
After the match, Mourinho reprimanded a ball boy who was slow to hand the ball back to Chelsea for a quick throw-in, per Martha Kelner of the Daily Mail. The Portuguese manager reminded the youngster that his delay tactics could get him "punched," evoking memories of Eden Hazard in Swansea.
Fulham's Fantastic Goal Was Not Enough
Fulham find themselves five points from safety after losing 3-1 at home to Champions League-chasing Everton on Sunday.
The Cottagers were given a glimmer of hope in the 71st minute when substitute Ashkan Dejagah rifled in an unstoppable equaliser from outside the box.
However, Kevin Mirallas put the Toffees back in front eight minutes later, and Steven Naismith killed off the game a few minutes from time. Naismith, incidentally, was a second-half substitute who made a superb contribution.
The match also provided one of the season's best comedy moments when an Everton fan shook his white stick at the linesman. Evidently, the official saw the funny side.
Adam Lallana Improved His World Cup Prospects with a Stunning Goal
Newcastle's trip to Southampton was certainly the most meaningless game of the weekend—and possibly the season—with neither side attempting to avoid relegation or aiming for European qualification.
However, it was a great day for England, as the Saints' 4-0 win came courtesy of three World Cup prospects: Jay Rodriguez (who scored a brace), Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana.
The best goal of the pack came from Lallana, who shot from distance into the top-right corner.
Meanwhile, Alan Pardew watched from the stands as his feckless side achieved their eighth loss in 13 matches in 2014.
Kaka Scored a Brace in His 300th Milan Match
Before Saturday, Kaka had scored only once in 13 appearances, but the Brazilian bagged a brace in Milan's 3-0 victory over Chievo.
For his first, the midfielder chested down a Keisuke Honda cross—in what looked like a marginally offside position—to neatly slot home. His second was a beautiful curling effort from the edge of the box that was too well-placed for goalkeeper Michael Agazzi to reach.
It was a fine way for Kaka to celebrate his 300th appearance for the Rossoneri.
It represents only the second time this season that the struggling Milanese side have recorded back-to-back wins.
Serie A Referee Reversed His Own Penalty Decision
Roma's pursuit of Juventus at the top of Serie A remained on track when they beat relegation candidates Sassuolo on Sunday.
However, the match contained a bizarre, controversial moment when referee Nicola Rizzoli overruled his own penalty decision.
With the score at 1-0, the goal-line official adjudged defender Mehdi Benatia to have pulled down striker Nicola Sansone in the box. He alerted the referee, who pointed to the spot. But the game was halted for nearly five minutes as Roma players complained, which resulted in Rizzoli reversing his call to award a dropped ball.
Roma coach Rudi Garcia was quoted by Reuters (h/t The Guardian) as saying "I think the referee did very well."
The Romans were given an extra boost later in the day when Napoli ended Juventus' winning streak.
Bayern Munich Didn't Win!
Going into Saturday's match with TSG Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich were on a winning streak of 19 consecutive league games. There seemed to be no reason why Pep Guardiola's side wouldn't go on winning everything for eternity.
Yet the Bavarians were held by Hoffenheim in a six-goal thriller in which they went behind in the 23rd minute.
With the title already secured, Bayern had every right to take their foot off the gas, but the draw may show why your team shouldn't go out drinking until 7 a.m. a few days before a game.
The biggest blow for Die Roten was the loss of Thiago, who will be out for 6-8 weeks with a torn knee ligament, according to ESPN FC.
Bojan Krkic Scored an Eredivisie Beauty
Bojan may be back on the books at Barcelona but he's spent this season out on loan at Ajax, where it may be argued he has fallen off the radar.
However, the Spanish midfielder showed us a glimpse of his genius on Sunday, scoring the third goal in Ajax's 3-0 win over Twente from outside the box in spectacular style.
The Amsterdammers are currently eight points ahead of Feyenoord at the top of the Eredivisie.