La Liga roundup: Table-toppers roll, Athletic stumbles
The weekend in La Liga saw the three clubs at the top of the table barrel through their opponents.
With Barcelona at the top, their 6-0 win over Rayo Vallecano extended their goal-differential to eight goals over Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, with all three clubs still tied at 60 points.
Both Madrid clubs also recorded clean sheets, with each taking a 3-0 victory.
Meanwhile, Atletic Bilbao, in fourth in the table, was pegged back at home by Espanyol 2-1.
Barcelona 6-0 Rayo Vallecano
Lionel Messi and Neymar both scored goals as Barcelona trounced Rayo Vallecano to take a commanding goal-differential lead at the top of the table. For more on this match, check out Richard Farley’s recap here.
Real Madrid 3-0 Getafe
Real Madrid didn’t miss a beat without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo. Jese got things started right away on a feed from Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema put away the comfortable win in the 27th.
The hosts have now won 14 of their last 15 in all competitions, but remain without their Ballon d’Or winner for another two matches.
Atletico Madrid 3-0 Valladolid
A flashy start saw Atletico Madrid cruise to three points, as Raul Garcia picked up a third-minute score and the ever-present Diego Costa banged home another a minute later.
With Atletico having won just two of their last five matches, the win allowed them to get back to their title-contending form.
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Espanyol
Athletic remains mired in fourth and their home league unbeaten streak comes to an end at 12 games, as Espanyol become the first team to beat Bilbao in the league at home this season.
Like many of the top teams this weekend, Espanyol got off to a great start as Sergio Garcia picked up a 6th minute goal. Carlos Gurpegi equalized early in the second half as he beat Kiko Casilla to a cross, but Espanyol went ahead for good just nine minutes later, Diego Colotto with the winner.
Celta Vigo 2-0 Villarreal
A match that took an extra half-hour due to a tear gas canister on the pitch finally ended with the home side picking up a surprise victory. It denied Villarreal a chance to take advantage of Athletic Bilbao’s stumble.
Instead, Villarreal remain four-back in fifth position thanks to goals from Fabian Orellana and Nolito, both after the 80th minute.
Granada 1-0 Real Betis
Granada ended a 3-game losing streak by taking their anger out on last-place Real Betis. Piti Medina picked up the game’s only goal on the end of a long-ball.
The loss sends Real Betis tumbling 10 points from safety. Both teams finished with 10 men.
Levante 1-0 Almeria
Levante jumped four places in the table to seventh as they absorbed much of the first half pressure and grabbed all three points through a volley by David Barral.
STILL TO PLAY: Sevilla vs. Valencia, Malaga vs. Real Sociedad