More goals for the MSN sees the trio on 102 for the season and keeps Barca on the heels of a Madrid side, showing no signs of slowing down
As long as the so-called MSN delivers, Barça will retain some sort of chance of winning the La Liga trophy. The Three Amigos squashed the opposition in a notable second half against Villarreal (4-1), to stay atop the standings one more week even though Real Madrid still has to play a catch-up game against Celta de Vigo.
The Culé showdown against Fran Escribà’s squad began with a lucky goal, taking advantage of a rebound inside the box and finishing easily. However, Villarreal wasn’t ready to fold: Cedric Bakambu wouldn’t waste a clear chance on his one-one-one against Ter Stegen, and got an early equalizer when the clock passed the half-hour mark.
Leo Messi, who had been sort of sleepy till then, decided to pick up the flag and charge on Villarreal’s defense. Another amazing show of skill outside the box, with a couple of feints, was capped with a crossed strike that surprised goalie Andrés Fernandez. The 2-1 came just before the half-time, and was a huge psychological blow for the away team.
This fact made Barça’s job much easier after returning from the dressing room. Villarreal sought the equalizer, but that left the Yellow Submarine exposed in their rearguard. Luis Suarez, after some spectacular dribbling, bagged the third for his team. Messi, with a Panenka-style penalty shot, rounded off the job.
Real trounces a drowning Granada in half an hour of fury
Thirty-five minutes. That’s all Real Madrid needed to slam Granada CF in a furious round of rapid fire which left Tony Adams and his men with plenty of bullet holes to heal (0-4). Zinedine Zidane’s B-Team keeps making a point of proving that, most of the time, they are indeed quite better equipped to deal with any opponent than the more predictable (and older) A-Team.
James Rodríguez scored twice in the first ten minutes, leaving Granada fans in a confused state that blended the anger of being relegated (it was official last week) and the perplexity of watching their team being swept away by a sea of black-shirted Madrid players. In the bench, Tony Adams could only watch as the proverbial house burnt down.
Having seen his Colombian team mate enjoying a glorious evening, Álvaro Morata decided to trump his performance with another two goals. This time, with the added difficulty of scoring both of them in just five minutes. The first one, a missile-like strike from inside the box, left keeper Guillermo Ochoa grasping at the air; the second one involved some dribbling and classy finishing with a swift shot that was impossible to save.
The remaining hour of football was as boring as expected, with the only highlight of Fabio Coentrao (yep, he’s still alive) playing what could possibly be his last game with Real after six disappointing seasons.
Atlético paves the way for the impossible
Atlético de Madrid won at home against Eibar. Check. Atlético won with a lonely goal by Saul that earned them the three points (1-0). Check. Atlético de Madrid walked closely to the edge of the cliff, with Eibar circling Jan Oblak’s goal and a huge chance in the finishing seconds. Check. All in all, a predictable outcome that leaves Cholo Simeone’s side with the relief of having secured 99% of the third place in the standings.
Nevertheless, the big news happened after the actual game, when almost the whole crowd in the Calderón stadium remained in their seats for fifteen minutes chanting and encouraging Atlético towards a potentially huge upset against Real in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal. A truly thrilling preview for Wednesday’s battle.
Alavés slays another giant
Mauricio Pellegrino’s stellar season on the bench of Mendizorroza netted another milestone after defeating Athletic Club in a win (1-0) that seriously blew the away side’s chances of playing in Europe next season. A screamer by Theo Hernandez, well into the second-half, was enough to knock down Ernesto Valverde’s side, who also saw how Real Sociedad got a golden point in their visit to Sevilla FC this weekend (1-1) to pull level in the standings (both Basque sides have 62 points).