La Liga week 7: Barçelona keep up the pressure on Real Madrid

Barcelona moved into second place after a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid to keep up the pressure on leaders Real Madrid. Barça were led by another superb performance from man-of-the-moment Leo Messi who overshadowed Atletico’s Kun Agüero completely. It must be worth the price of a satellite dish just to see Messi play. He has now scored eight goals in the last six games and he’s not just a striker. Today he made a saving tackle in his own penalty area when Pernia looked about to score.

Messi played a big part in Barça’s first goal, beating a defender by the corner flag before sending in a low cross that Atletico’s stand-in keeper, Abbiati, fumbled to leave Deco a simple tap-in. Messi got the second after twenty minutes when he played a one-two with Ronaldinho before whipping in a powerful low shot. After the second goal it was fairly easy for Barça, they got the third goal right at the end when young Mexican star Giovani dos Santos sent in a low cross which Xavi slotted home from six yards out.

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Real Madrid stay top with a two point advantage over Barça, after beating Recreativo 2-0 at the Bernabeu. Madrid had plenty of chances but had to wait until the 72nd minute to take the lead through an excellent finish from Ruud Van Nistlerooy. This was a better performance from Madrid who should have taken the lead earlier. Wesley Sneijder had a great chance at the start of the second half but shot against the far post. Substitute Gonzalo Higuaín wrapped up the three points for Madrid in the 90th minute when he ran on to a classy through ball from Guti before taking the ball past the keeper to score.

For the second consecutive home game Mallorca came back from 0-2 down to win 4-2, though this week they did it with only ten men! Getafe had taken a two-lead with two goals from Sousa. Ibagaza pulled one back from the penalty spot but after 62 minutes Mallorca’s Pereyra was sent off. Two goals from Arango and one from Ramis sealed the win for Mallorca which leaves Getafe in a perilous position with just two points. Will Michael Laudrup be their coach for much longer?

Another coach who could be sacked very soon is Levante’s Abel Resino. Levante lost 3-0 at Zaragosa, and are bottom with just one point from seven games. Zaragosa were always on top but had to wait until the last half hour for their goals. The first came from a low shot from Sergio Garcia, and then two goals from substitute Oliviera sealed the victory for Zaragosa.

Espanyol moved up to fifth place after an excellent performance at Valencia. Ruben Baraja gave the home team an early lead when he headed in a David Villa corner. Villa then went off injured after 15 minutes and he will now miss Spain’s games against Denmark and Finland. Albert Riera scored a great equalizer for Espanyol after twenty minutes when he chested down and volleyed home from just inside the area. Ten minutes from the end Luis Garcia made it 1-2 when he took advantage of a defensive mistake to run on and shoot between the legs of goalkeeper Hildebrand.

Osasuna won a tight game 3-2 against Villarreal. Giuseppe Rossi opened the scoring for the visitors with his fifth goal of the season. An own goal from Javi Venta brought the scores level and then Dady made it 2-1 scoring with his chest. Villarreal equalized after 36 minutes when Godin scored with a powerful header. Then with ten minutes to go, Javi Garcia scored the best goal of the game with a terrific right foot shot. Osasuna had two players, including their goalkeeper Ricardo, sent off in the closing minutes. Midfield player Patxi Puñal had to play in goal for the last five minutes but the nine men held on.

Sevilla’s poor league form continued. This week they lost 0-1 at home to Deportivo who climb out of the relegation zone. A good performance from the Depor defence and a dire game from Freddie Kanoute left Sevilla goalless. Depor’s goal came after 72 minutes when Riki shot home after a pass from Guardado.

Athletic Bilbao are still without a home win after drawing 1-1 with Almeria. Athletic went 1-0 up when Joseba Etxeberria scored his first goal at San Mames since April 2004. Asier Del Horno was sent off just before half time and Almeria took advantage of their numerical superiority in the second half to equalize when Felipe Melo headed in a corner.

Murcia and Betis played out a dull 0-0 draw. The closest chances were when Caffa hit the bar for Betis, while Murcia hit the post with a shot from Baiano. Murcia had slightly the better of the play but neither side showed enough ambition to take the three points. And in the final game this weekend Racing beat Valladolid 2-0 with goals from Smolarek and Tchite.

Nig writes for the Barcelona blog.

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