Barca win nine-goal thriller
A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Liga, with Barcelona beating Deportivo 5-4.
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A Lionel Messi hat-trick only told half of the story as Barcelona held off a plucky Deportivo La Coruna to win a captivating Primera Division match 5-4 at Riazor on Saturday.
It looked to be a one-sided affair when the league leaders raced into a three-goal lead through Jordi Alba, Cristian Tello and Messi after just 18 minutes.
However, Depor replied with a Luis Pizzi penalty and an Alex Bergantinos goal before Messi struck again to put Barca back in the driving seat.
Pizzi's second of the match then set the nerves jangling once more and the dismissal of Javier Mascherano gave the visitors further food for thought until Messi made it 5-3 with his third.
The excitement did not stop there though, and an own goal from Alba brought Depor back within touching distance of their opponents with 11 minutes remaining.
However, despite their best attempts to grab a deserved equaliser, their luck ran out as Barca held on for the points.
Gonzalo Higuain's cross-cum-shot and a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo helped injury-hit Real Madrid to a comfortable, if uninspiring, 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo.
The recent international break has left Madrid short of options at the back, with full-backs Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Arbeloa facing spells on the sidelines, but they attacked from the off although Higuain's 11th-minute opener was a touch fortunate.
Ronaldo netted from the spot midway through the second half to settle matters after Mesut Ozil tumbled in the area following a rather innocuous challenge from defender Gustavo Cabral.
The win meant Madrid moved up to fourth.
On Sunday, Christian Stuani's first goal for Espanyol deep into stoppage time handed the Catalans their first win of the season as they came from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano 3-2.
Leo Baptistao had headed Rayo into an early lead but two goals from Joan Verdu either side of half-time put Espanyol 2-1 in front before Leo slotted home his second of the game just after the hour mark.
However, after both sides had been reduced to 10-men as Diego Colotto and Mikel Labaka both saw red it was substitute Stuani who was the hero as he powered home Sergio Garcia's cross to bring relief to the Cornella El Prat.
Michel's stunning 35-yard strike three minutes from time handed Levante all three points from an otherwise turgid 1-0 victory over Getafe at the Alfonso Perez Coliseum.
Both goalkeepers had comfortably dealt with long-range efforts all afternoon as neither side looked capable of breaking the opposition down until the Levante substitute latched onto a loose ball just inside the Getafe half and took a touch before looping his effort over the helpless Miguel Angel Moya.
A second consecutive 1-0 win for Juan Ignacio Martinez's men moves them up into fifth, whilst Getafe slip back into the bottom half.
Osasunacould not mark midfielder Patxi Punal's record-breaking appearance with victory as they were held in a 0-0 stalemate with Real Betis.
The 37-year-old Punal lined up in midfield to break the club's record of 463 appearances, but the match itself proved a largely frustrating experience as Betis stood firm, and the visitors would have won the match but for an assistant's flag denying Ruben Castro a first-half goal.
The result leaves Osasuna still rooted to the foot of the table, while Betis missed the chance to push into the top four.
Radamel Falcao showed again why he is rated as one of the best goalscorers on the planet after curling in a brilliant late free-kick to earn high-flying Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad.
The match at the Anoeta looked set to finish in a draw until Falcao stepped up in the 90th minute to strike home a 25-yard free-kick that left Sociedad goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai grasping at thin air.
Back to Saturday's action and Valencia snatched victory away from 10-man Athletic Bilbao with two late goals in a match between two of the division's most notable early-season strugglers.
Aritz Aduriz's first-half double, either side of a Roberto Soldado penalty, looked like it would be enough for Bilbao despite Ander Herrera's dismissal on 67 minutes.
But after Tino Costa levelled with just two minutes remaining, substitute Nelson Valdez popped up to head in the winner with barely any time left on the clock.
Joaquin scored the winner three minutes from time as Malaga came from behind to beat 10-man Real Valladolid 2-1.
Manucho had fired the visitors into a shock lead on just nine minutes but Isco levelled the scores eight minutes before half-time with an accurate low finish from Eliseu's cut-back.
The game appeared to being going Malaga's way when Manucho was harshly sent off for a second yellow card nine minutes from time and then the hosts were awarded a penalty when Henrique Sereno felled Javier Saviola in the area, but Joaquin blazed his spot-kick over.
However, the former Spain international made amends two minutes later when he pounced after Dani Gimenez could only parry Martin Demichelis' header back into the danger area.