La Liga Week 8 Roundup: Madrid Hit Racing for Six, Depor and Zara Still Winless
Real Madrid 6 – 1 Racing Santander
Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals as Real Madrid smashed six past Racing Santander and maintained their position at the top of La Liga. The win was Madrid’s third straight league victory, a spell in which they have scored sixteen goals, with Ronaldo claiming eight of them.
Jose Mourinho could not have wished for a better start, with his team in imperious form right now—eight games unbeaten in La Liga, 11 unbeaten overall, 22 league goals with only four conceded. Yet even more important than the statistical dominance are the on-field performances; Madrid look like a cohesive and free-flowing team and are playing phenomenal football.
The opening goal came after 10 minutes, when Angel Di Maria played a brilliant pass over the visitors defence that released Gonzalo Higuain, and the Argentine forward made no mistake as he curled a simple finish past Racing keeper Toño.
The next forty minutes belonged to Ronaldo, as the Portuguese winger scored in the 15th, 27th, 47th and 55th minutes in a stunning individual performance. Ronaldo’s first came when he slotted home a clinical near-post finish from Higuain’s inviting cross, while his second was a simple far post tap-in after Mesut Özil’s pass across the face of goal.
The visitors had no answer for Madrid’s attacking play, and Ronaldo had his hat trick just after the break as he was able to turn and score from the edge of the six yard box after Di Maria’s cross. He had his fourth goal from the penalty spot eight minutes later, slotting home the spot kick after Di Maria had been brought down by Domingo Cisma.
Next up for Madrid was Özil, who got on the end of Xabi Alonso’s through ball, cut inside a defender and curled home. Özil has enjoyed a brilliant start to his Madrid career and it’s difficult to see Kaka displacing him even when fully fit.
Racing’s consolation goal came in bizarre fashion, as Papa Kouly Diop’s long range piledriver caught the head of teammate Markus Rosenberg and flew into the top corner to give the Swede his first goal for the club, albeit a goal that counted for very little in the circumstances.
The win keeps Madrid top of the table with 20 points and maintains their record as the only unbeaten team in La Liga, while Racing drop into 18th place with seven points.
Real Zaragoza 0 – 2 Barcelona
Barcelona temporarily moved to the top of La Liga after a Lionel Messi double gave them a comfortable victory over bottom-placed Zaragoza. The win continued Barca’s perfect away record, and in truth, they were rarely threatened, particularly after the 47th minute dismissal of Leonardo Ponzio.
Messi, fresh from his Champions League double in midweek, was once again his team’s main attacking threat and had Barca’s first chance of the game, but his shot was well saved by keeper Toni Doblas. At the other end, Nobrega Braulio missed Zaragoza’s best chance, which was followed by a low drive from David Villa and a lob from Dani Alves that both went close.
Messi got the opener just before the break with a goal that owed a lot to Villa’s quality, as the forward went on a fine run and then split the Zaragoza defence with a clever pass. The pass gave Messi time and space to carry the ball into the box, where he made no mistake in slotting past Doblas to give Barca the lead.
Just after the break, things got worse for Zaragoza, as Ponzio received a straight red for striking out at Alves, which left the hosts a man down for almost 45 minutes. It became a case of damage limitation for Zaragoza, with Barca in complete control of possession and territory.
Villa went close again on the hour mark, and then Messi scored two minutes later, following up blocked shots from Seydou Keita and Andres Iniesta to smash home his second. Barca seemed content to play out the remainder of the match in relative ease, with the only other chance of note coming when Villa hit the post three minutes from time.
Barca’s victory took them to the top of La Liga for a short time, but they have since been overtaken by Madrid and Villarreal and sit in third place on 19 points, while Zaragoza are still winless and bottom of the table with just three points.
Valencia 1 – 2 Mallorca
Valencia slumped to their second straight league defeat after going down at home to Mallorca thanks to a first half double from Gonzalo Castro. A penalty from Roberto Soldado just before half-time brought them back into contention, but Valencia were unable to score again and now find themselves four points off the pace.
Mallorca took the lead in the seventh minute after the award of a highly controversial penalty for an apparent foul on Pierre Webo, who appeared to catch his own heel after shooting. The referee saw fit to award the spot kick, and Castro made no mistake in dispatching it to give the visitors an early lead.
If Mallorca’s lead was a surprise, things got even more shocking in the 27th minute when Castro headed home his second after Valencia keeper Miguel Moya had parried Edson’s drive.
Valencia looked out of ideas for much of the game, but received a lifeline in the 36th minute when a clumsy challenge from behind brought down Vicente just inside the penalty area. Soldado stepped up to score and pull the hosts back to one goal down going into the break.
Unfortunately for Valencia, the second half was more of the same, with Mallorca on top and Castro twice going close to scoring a hat trick. Valencia never really looked like getting back into the game, and in truth didn’t really deserve to on what was a miserable night for the Mestalla faithful.
The defeat leaves Valencia down in fourth place, four points off the pace with 16 points, while Mallorca’s victory takes them up to ninth place with 11 points.
Almeria 1 – 1 Hercules
A late equaliser from Jose Ulloa cancelled out Nelson Valdez’s first half opener and allowed Almeria to salvage a point at home to Hercules. The result leaves Almeria still seeking their first home win of the season, although it would have been a lot worse were it not for Ulloa’s goal.
Almeria have struggled early on this season, with their only victory so far coming away to fellow strugglers Deportivo. Goals in particular have been difficult to come by, with only five goals in their seven La Liga ties going into this encounter.
The hosts did begin the game brightly, with both Kalu Uche and Pablo Piatti going close early on. Uche’s hooked shot after a corner was cleared off the line, while Piatti’s powerful far-post header was well saved by Hercules keeper Juan Calatayud.
In the 37th minute, Piatti’s long range effort forced another good save from Calatayud, as Almeria continued to press, but only a minute later, Hercules made the breakthrough. A quick counter-attack saw a ball to the far post reach winger Rufete, who squared across goal to leave Valdez with a simple tap-in and send the visitors one up at half-time.
The second half was light on chances, with the only notable efforts an Albert Crusat header for Almeria and a powerful Javier Portillo shot for Hercules. The hosts looked like they were set to slump to another defeat, until Ulloa’s 83rd minute goal drew them level. The goal was harsh on Calatayud, who made a smart double save, but could only tip the second save to Ulloa who swept the ball home at the far post.
It was no less than the hosts deserved after creating the better of the chances, with the point leaving Almeria in 16th place on seven points and Almeria in 13th with nine points.
Espanyol 2 – 1 Levante
Espanyol moved up to fifth place after maintaining their 100 percent home record with a win over 10-man Levante. The victory came courtesy of goals from Jesus Datolo and Jose Callejon, with a late reply from Christian Stuani too little too late for the visitors, whose task was made even harder after Xisco Nadal’s 56th minute dismissal.
Espanyol have been in stellar form at home so far this season, while their visitors were also in good form, with a run of four unbeaten league games. The hosts started well, with Callejon firing narrowly wide after five minutes, before Datolo opened the scoring in the 13th minute.
The Argentine midfielder began the move with a mazy run and fine cross that caused havoc in the Levante box, and then produced a fine volley when the ball came back across goal to give his side the lead. The hosts looked rampant at this stage, with Callejon going close again soon after the opener, and also having a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside later in the half.
The visitors’ hopes of recovery looked even bleaker once Nadal was shown a straight red for a lunge from behind on Datolo as he broke towards goal. Levante did have a reasonable penalty shout midway through the second half, but 10 minutes before the end, Callejon put the game beyond doubt.
Callejon finally got his goal as he lashed home from the edge of the box after the ball broke to him, with the goal proving key as Levante’s Stuani headed home with six minutes remaining.
The win sees Espanyol reach the heady heights of fifth place with 15 points, while Levante drop to 13th place as they remain on eight points.
Getafe 3 – 0 Sporting Gijon
Getafe swept aside Sporting Gijon to secure a comfortable victory thanks to goals from Derek Boateng, Adrian Colunga and Ivan Marcano. The win proved a great tonic to a week in which they had lost to rivals Atletico Madrid and in the Europa League to Stuttgart.
The hosts got off to a great start, as Ghanaian midfielder Boateng put them a goal up inside 10 minutes, producing a clever sidefoot to volley home Dani Parejo’s corner. The rest of the half was a fairly tepid affair, with Gijon producing a couple of token efforts but nothing which challenged Getafe keeper Jordi Codina.
Getafe began the second half in fine fashion, as they had two goals in the first fifteen minutes after the break, but the goals came after a scare in the opening seconds of the first half. Gijon broke straight from the kick off, and a cut-back cross found its way to Miguel de las Cuevas at the far post, but the forward dragged his shot horribly wide with the goal at his mercy.
That near miss seemed to shock Getafe into life, and they doubled their lead in the 51st minute after substitute Juan Albin was upended in the Levante box. The spot-kick was casually clipped home by Colunga to put the hosts two up, and it wasn’t long before they had a third.
Victor Sanchez hit a free-kick towards the far post, and a header back across goal by Manu del Moral was smashed into the top corner from around the penalty spot by Marcano. The goal was a moment of brilliance from Marcano and ended the visitors’ resistance as Getafe saw the game out in comfortable fashion.
The victory moves Getafe up to seventh place with an impressive total of 13 points, while Levante stay on eight points and drop to 14th place.
Osasuna 3 – 0 Malaga
Osasuna moved out of the relegation zone and leapfrogged fellow strugglers Malaga after demolishing them 3-0 in this one-sided encounter. Both sides entered the game without a win in their past three games, but goals from Javad Nekounam, Masoud Shojaei and Carlos Aranda gave Osasuna all three points and extended Malaga’s misery.
The hosts got off to the perfect start when Francisco Juanfran was bundled over by Manu Torres and Nekounam stepped up to slot home the penalty and put Osasuna one goal to the good.
Malaga had a decent chance in the 10th minute through a Nabil Baha header, while at the other end Aranda, Masoud and Juanfran all had chances as Osasuna began to dominate. Once again, Juanfran was instrumental, as he squared for Masoud to smash home a superb effort from 12 yards.
The second goal was no less than Osasuna deserved and sent them in 2-0 up at the break, a lead that was extended in the 55th minute by Aranda. The visitors failed to clear Fernando Soriano’s corner, and Aranda was on hand to divert Masoud’s shot into the net from close range.
The third goal signalled an end to any significant action, with Malaga failing to muster any sort of comeback as Osasuna secured an easy victory. The win sees Osasuna jump out of the relegation and up into 12th place with nine points, while Malaga stay on seven points and drop to 17th.
Sevilla 4 – 3 Athletic Bilbao
Ten-man Sevilla held off a late comeback from Bilbao to edge a seven-goal thriller that featured doubles from Luis Fabiano, Fredi Kanoute and Fernando Llorente. Two goals from Fabiano and a Kanoute penalty looked to have put the game out of sight and a quickfire Llorente double put Bilbao back in contention, before Kanoute’s second rendered Igor Gabilondo’s late goal irrelevant.
Sevilla came into the game off a trip to Ukraine in the Europa League and looked a little sluggish early on, as Javi Martinez and Llorente both went close. Luis Fabiano missed Sevilla’s first chance of note, but made amends in the 35th minute, as his fine shot on the turn found the bottom corner and gave his side the lead.
Fabiano was heavily involved in the second as, just on the stroke of half-time, he nipped in between two Bilbao defenders and went down in the box. The referee pointed straight to the spot, a decision which was hotly disputed by the visitors, but Kanoute made no mistake from the spot as he passed the ball in off the post.
If Bilbao felt a little hard done by to be two goals down, it got a lot worse soon after the hour mark, as Fabiano’s great touch and clever lob put Sevilla 3-0 up. It was a moment of brilliance from the previously out of form Brazilian and looked to have put the win beyond doubt.
The last half hour was slightly less comfortable for the hosts, with the 65th minute dismissal of Fernando Navarro leaving them a man down and then two goals from Llorente pulling Bilbao right back into contention. The first came in the 74th minute when he produced a towering header to put away Susaeta’s fine cross, whie the second came in the 78th minute after Llorente himself was pulled down in the area and Bilbao had a penalty of their own.
Sevilla keeper Andres Palop produced a fine stop from Llorente’s initial effort, but could only parry the ball straight back to the striker who made no mistake with the rebound. Soon after, Sevilla had their second controversial penalty of the day, as the officials adjudged that substitute Alvaro Negredo had been fouled, which looked highly debatable.
Kanoute smashed home his second penalty of the day, putting Sevilla 4-2 up, a lead which proved to be key as Gabilondo’s 93rd minute header gave Bilbao a third goal in the final twenty minutes. The victory sees Sevilla move back up to sixth place with 14 points, while Bilbao drop to 10th as they remain on 10 points.
Villarreal 2 – 0 Atletico Madrid
Villarreal got back to winning ways, as goals from Cani and Giuseppe Rossi secured victory over Atletico and moved the "Yellow Submarines" back into second place in La Liga. Villarreal missed the chance to go top last week, as their five-match winning run ended with a draw at Hercules, but this win rarely looked in doubt after Cani’s early goal.
There was an early scare for the hosts after Atletico star Sergio Aguero saw a third minute goal disallowed for offside, with replays showing that the official got a very close decision absolutely correct. Five minutes later, Villarreal had the lead, as Cani ran onto a clever pass from Nilmar and poked the ball under Atletico keeper David de Gea.
Atletico’s Diego Costa and Villarreal’s Santi Cazorla both had first half chances, while on the stroke of half-time, Atletico were furious when the referee waved away a strong penalty appeal after a challenge on Sergio Aguero. The Atletico players surrounded the referee as the teams left the field, while Atletico boss Quique Sanchez Flores was sent to the stands for taking his protest too far.
Seven minutes into the second half, things went from bad to worse for Atletico, as a brilliant goal from Rossi doubled Villarreal’s lead. Rossi latched onto Cani’s through ball, turned a defender, shifted the ball from one foot to the other and found the bottom corner with a clinical finish. The goal saw Rossi draw level with strike partner Nilmar on five La Liga goals, with the duo’s goals a key factor in Villarreal’s success so far.
Nilmar should have put the game out of sight soon after but hit his shot straight at de Gea, while Atletico had another legitimate penalty shout waved away after Aguero went down under pressure. The victory is Villarreal’s sixth in seven league games and moves them back into second place on 19 points, ahead of Barcelona on goal difference.
For Atletico, defeats against Barca, Sevilla and Villarreal already this season suggest that they may be a tier below La Liga’s top sides, as they remain on 13 points and drop to eighth position.
Real Sociedad 3 – 0 Deportivo La Coruna
Deportivo’s woeful start to the season continued as they went down 3-0 at Sociedad thanks to goals from Joseba Llorente, Antoine Griezmann and Imanol Agirretxe. Depor’s winless start to the season now extends to eight games, while Sociedad secure a vital three points to move away from the drop zone.
Sociedad controlled the game throughout and took the lead in the 17th minute, when Llorente met Alberto de la Bella’s pinpoint cross with a firm header that found the bottom corner. Deportivo, who had scored only three goals in their seven games before this one, have a distinct lack of goal threat that leaves them in trouble whenever they fall behind.
Depor showed no sign of getting back into the game during the first half, but did have a great chance in the 65th minute, when Riki’s powerful header was well saved by Sociedad keeper Claudio Bravo.
Unfortunately for the visitors, that was the end of their resistance, as Griezmann’s powerful header made it two, and Agirretxe slotted home the third for a comprehensive victory. The win moves Sociedad up to 11th with ten points, while Depor are now entrenched in the bottom three, with no wins, four points and 19th place to show for their shocking form.