Messi hat-trick and Benzema’s brace keep close La Liga race

Messi scored a hattrick in 4x1 win of Barcelona. Credits: REUTERS/Albert Gea

Last weekend both Real and Barcelona lost points and saw Real Sociedad get tied on points. However, on matchday 12, Sociedad lost 2 points against bottom-placed Leganes and the two ‘amigos’ are again alone at the top.

However, they have just one point difference to third and fourth-placed Atletico and Sevilla. There are just 5 points of difference between the 9th and the 1st placed sides, so La Liga might be pretty interesting to watch this season.

Barcelona 4 x 1 Celta de Vigo

Messi stole the show once again at the Camp Nou, as Barcelona recovered from a defeat against Levante and a stalemate against Slavia Praha. In the ‘Catalan’ fortress, they got an amazing record: 6 games, 6 wins.

They opened the scoreline early through Messi conversion of a penalty kick. However, Lucas Olaza re-established the draw, with a well converted free kick for Celta.

However, Messi had an immediate reply as he also scored a free-kick, just before the halftime, to put Barcelona winning 2×1.

Probably some people thought they were still watching the replay, as Messi opened the second half with an exact copy of the previous goal. A pinpoint free-kick, this time on the other end of the stadium.

Celta could have got one back, but Ter Stegen punched the ball away.

The last goal would come from an unlikely source, as Sergio Busquets finished it from the edge of the box.

Barcelona are back in 1st place, tied in points with rivals Real Madrid.

Eibar 0 x 4 Real Madrid

Real Madrid had as astounding performance midweek, with a 6×0 thumping against Galatasary serving as perfect motivation. With the morale boosted, they visited Eibar and got another smashing win.

Karim Benzema, who had scored a brace against Galatasaray, started the goalfest, with just 9 minutes passed. Clumsy defense by Eibar, leaving Benzema with an open goal to score.

Minutes later Eden Hazard was fouled in the box and another chance for Real. Captain Sergio Ramos did not miss his second goal of the season.

Another penalty before the break, as Jose Angel fouled Lucas Vasquez. This time it was Benzema who converted. 2 consecutive braces and with 9 goals he is the best scorer in La Liga.

Fede Valverde scored the last goal of the evening, the first goal of the season for the Uruguayan.

Real Madrid holds tight to the joint lead and they do not let the ‘Catalan’ rivals run away for now.

Real Betis 1 x 2 Sevilla

This weekend La Liga was the stage of the Andalucian derby, between the two crests of Sevilla. While Lopetegui’s side has had a positive season start, both in La Liga and Europa League, Betis has been trembling, with a single victory in the last 5 games.

So, the optimism was that Sevilla FC was stronger than its counterpart and although the game was tight, in the end the 3 points proved this fact. Lucas Ocampos opened the score with a little help from Joel Robles who could have defended it better.

Loren Moron put back the score level, as the striker netted his 8th of the season.

However, in the early minutes of second half, Luuk De Jong found himself open and beat Robles again. The VAR rechecked the legality, but the Dutch striker was not offside.

Betis searched for the equalizer, but both Vaclik and the woodwork denied them the goal.

Sevilla is 1 point away from the top 2 and they have not lost a game in the last 5 matches of La Liga. Meanwhile, in Betis it is still possible that a managerial chance is happening soon.

Atletico Madrid 3 x 1 Espanyol

After two successive draws, Atletico got back on track with a victory over Espanyol. The Catalan side can’t find their form and Atletico took advantage of the fragilities of the opponent.

However, it was Espanyol who actually scored first, when Sergi Darder beat Oblak after the half-hour.

At the end of the first half, Atletico make it 1×1, when Thomas Partey made a sublime pass to Morata. The Spanish forward squared for Angel Correa to finish it off.

Already in the second period, Morata himself completed the comeback, making it 6 goals in 6 consecutive games.

Koke completed the score in extra time, making it 3×1. Atletico gives a proper response after their midweek defeat against Leverkusen and are closer to the top. Meanwhile, Espanyol is in 19th place, in the relegation zone.

Real Sociedad 1 x 1 Leganes

After arriving at the joint top with Real and Barcelona, it seemed that Sociedad had the perfect opponent to keep the victorious run going. They were hosting bottom side Leganes at the Anoeta, but they ended up stuck with a draw.

It was the first game in charge of the new Leganes coach Javier Aguirre, and the Mexican already grabbed a point.

Cuellar was the most responsible for holding Real Sociedad’s attack. The goalkeeper made 3 fine saves and postponed the goal of the home side till the middle of the second half.

Mikel Merino with a header after a corner surprised Cuellar, who had no reaction from such a close range.

However, Aguirre operated the substitutions and En-Nesyri coming from the bench equaled the game with a header.

Sociedad drops to 5th place, while Leganes is still bottom but left good indications that Aguirre might be the right man for the job.

Mallorca 3 x 1 Villarreal

One of the surprises of the weekend happened in Mallorca, as the home side defeated Villarreal. Mallorca had 2 defeats in the last 3 matches, but surprisingly their last victory was against Real Madrid.

Again, they targeted one of the ‘big boys’ of La Liga but Villarreal can only blame itself for the result. Especially considering how their clumsy defending resulted in two early penalties for the hosts, converted by Lago Junior and Dani Rodriguez.

In the first half, Manolo Reina kept his clean sheet, but in the second period Villarreal was awarded a penalty of their own and Santi Cazorla gave the visitors a lifeline.

However, they barely had time to think about a possible comeback, as Takefusa Kubo scored his first goal for Mallorca, setting the score in 3×1. A brilliant finish from the Japanese international who is on loan from Real Madrid.

Villarreal dropped to 11th place, with 5 defeats, all of them away from home. Mallorca leaves the relegation places and gets a new hope for retaining their first division status.

Athletic Bilbao 2 x 1 Levante

Athletic had to sweat to break down Levante as they came from behind to clinch an important win. After 2 consecutive victories, Levante was not able to get 3 on the bounce.

Aitor Fernandez denied Athletic their opener twice and Levante got motivation from their keeper performance and broke the deadlock. Postigo following a corner in the last minute of the first period.

Iker Muniain was the first Athletic player that evening able to break Aitor’s wall, with a well-placed header. Later, Ander Capa was close to making the comeback, but once again Aitor stepped up to deny it.

However, another effort from Capa on the 88 minutes was too strong even for Fernandez. A delightful volley that only stopped in the back of the net.

The hosts get all 3 points in the San Mames and they are 6th at the moment.

Valencia 2 x 0 Granada

Granada keeps falling out of grace, after the epic uprising that saw them getting 1st place. Now they count 3 defeats in a row and dropped to 8th place.

Meanwhile, Valencia’s new coach Celades seems to be getting the hang of it and after a great comeback in Champions League against Lille, his men got the second consecutive La Liga win.

Valencia had to wait until second half to finally score, but their first one did not count. Parejo’s finish was denied by the VAR, who saw Maxi Gomez in an offside position interfering with the outcome.

However, later in the 74 minutes, they finally got a legal goal, when Daniel Wass arrived just in time in the box to control the ball with his chest and thump it away from Rui Silva.

Domingos Duarte was close to equalizing, but the Granada defender saw his attempt being flicked away by Wass.

In the last minute of compensation, Ferran Torres unstoppable run into the box ended with a sumptuous finesse shot that wrapped up the result.

Alaves 3 x 0 Real Valladolid

Valladolid visited Alaves in the opening fixture of matchday 12 and the hosts were not exactly welcoming. They trashed Valladolid 3×0, establishing a dominant position.

La Guardia threatened in the opening minutes with a header that hit the crossbar, but the deadlock would only open when Joselu completed a great team move.

Before halftime, Tomas Pina made it 2×0 after Valladolid’s keeper Masip let the ball slip from his hands.

Lucas Perez finished the result with a penalty kick goal, making this game the 7th in a row where he found the back of the net.

Alaves are now 14th, while Valladolid is just above at 13th.

Getafe 0 x 0 Osasuna

Two teams that have been enjoying a decent season start, Getafe and Osasuna, produced an entertaining but stale match.

Osasuna’s starting keeper Ruben got injured in the first half and it was Herrera, the substitute, who shined, keeping a clean sheet with multiple saves.

The best goal opportunity though was produced by Getafe. Kennedy failed to convert a bicycle kick and Molina on the rebound tried to flick it through, but it hit the crossbar.

Getafe is enjoying a successful spell with 2 wins and a draw, while Osasuna also has not lost in the last 4 matches.

El Clasico has a date: 18th of December

Meanwhile, in the latest news, La Liga announced that El Clasico is due to be played on the 18th of December at the 20h (Spain time). The game had been postponed due to the Catalonian riots in Barcelona and will be played in the Camp Nou against Real Madrid.

The protagonists of El Clasico, who will be played on the 18th of December. Source: La Liga
About Jorge Costa 140 Articles
Jorge Costa is a freelance journalist, with a Masters Degree in Journalism and Communication, through the University of Coimbra, Portugal. He specializes in sports and soccer in particular.

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