La Liga: Matchday 26 Sees No Change In League Position As Barcelona Retain Top Spot
The game came just three days after Luis Enrique announced he would not remain as Barca coach next season, but the news had little effect on his players as Leo Messi produced another stunning display.
The Argentinean scored twice, while Neymar, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti rounded out the scoring to give Barca the perfect warm-up for Wednesday’s Champions League tie at home to Paris Saint-Germain in which they have to overturn a 4-0 deficit against the French Champions.
Saturday also saw Real Madrid return to form with a 4-1 win away to Eibar.
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After being questioned by the press during the week Karim Benzema responded in the best possible way, scoring twice in the first 25 minutes and having a hand in the other two goals with an assist for James Rodriguez, who made it 3-0 on the half hour and helping set up Marcos Asensio for the fourth goal.
Ruben Pena scored a consolation for Eibar, but the Basque side were well below their best after a tiring midweek game against local rivals Real Sociedad.
Antoine Griezmann celebrated his 100th appearance for Atletico Madrid with a brace of goals as Atletico enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win at home to a Valencia side playing their fifth league game in a fortnight.
Griezmann opened the scoring in the ninth minute after a through ball from Koke. After Kevin Gameiro had doubled Atletico’ s lead shortly after halftime, he scored his second of the afternoon with six minutes remaining to ensure Atletico remain fourth, ahead of Real Sociedad, who won 3-2 away to Betis on Friday night.
Third-placed Sevilla play away to Alaves on Monday night
Villarreal strengthened their case for a swift return to Europe thanks to a routine win over a tidy but toothless Espanyol.
An even game tilted Villarreal’s way when Roberto Soriano swept home Mario Gaspar’s cross in the last minute of the first half and an own goal from Diego Lopez after Cedric Bakambu’s shot bounced off the post and sealed the three points for Villarreal 10 minutes from time.
Athletic Club Bilbao moved into seventh place thanks to a Raul Garcia penalty which gave them a deserved 1-0 win at home to Malaga, who need to watch their backs in order to avoid being drawn into the relegation fight.
There was more drama at the bottom of the table with Leganes taking a key 1-0 win at home to Granada thanks to Darwin Machis’ first goal in 20 appearances.
Meanwhile, Deportivo la Coruna continue to improve under Pepe Mel and Sunday saw them make it four points from the two games he has been in charge following the sacking of Gaizka Garitano.
A Pedro Mosquera header on the stroke of halftime gave Deportivo their first away win of the season away to Sporting Gijon to put space between them and the relegation zone, while leaving their rivals rooted in the drop zone
Meanwhile Osasuna’s fate looks increasingly clear after they lost 5-2 away to Las Palmas in a game in which their left back Alex Belenguer was taken to hospital after suffering a blow to his head.
(With Inputs From Xinhua)