dimanche 23 mars 2014

 Barcelona are back in the Spanish title race after a
heart-stopping, controversial 4-3 win at Real Madrid, in one of the
most remarkable Clasicos of recent times.
Barca's hero was Lionel Messi with a match-winning hat-trick, two of
his goals coming from late disputed penalties. Andres Iniesta scored
Barca's other goals.
Karim Benzema scored twice for Real, world player Cristiano Ronaldo
put away their other goal. The whites were crippled by the sending
off of defender Sergio Ramos in one of Barca's penalties.
Barca's controversial win leaves Atletico Madrid - who won 2-0
earlier Sunday at Real Betis - top, level on Real on 70 points but
above them on the Spanish direct results system. Barca are third,
just one point behind the Madrid teams.
The clasico was preceded by a minute's silence for former Spanish
prime minister Adolfo Suarez, who died Sunday.
Iniesta gave Barca the lead in the eighth minute after being set up
by Messi, only for Benzema to quickly turn the game around with two
opportunistic goals.
Messi made it 2-2 for Barca just before half-time, but Ronaldo
restored Real's lead from the penalty spot after being pulled down by
Dani Alves.
The game turned on an incident in the 64th minute, when Ramos was
sent off for pulling down Barca's Neymar. Messi calmly made it 3-3
from the spot.
Barca then went for Real's throat, in the knowledge that only a win
would keep them in the title race. Alves hit Real's post, then Barca
were given a second penalty for a foul by Xabi Alonso on Iniesta.
Messi completed his hat-trick with his second penalty, and Barca had
scored their sixth win in the Bernabeu since 2009 in all
Earlier Sunday, Atletico Madrid went top with their win at Betis.
Atletico should have gone ahead in the 24th minute when Spain striker
Diego Costa seemed to have broken the deadlock, only for his goal to
be harshly disallowed for offside.
Betis, who are seven points adrift at the bottom and almost certainly
doomed, had striker Braian Rodriguez sent off in the 56th minute for
Three minutes later, Atletico's veteran captain Gabi made it 1-0 with
a blistering near-post drive, then Costa sealed the win after being
set up by a header from Koke.
"It was not easy for us in the first half, but everything changing
after the sending-off (of Rodriguez)," said Atletico coach Diego
"From then on, it was another match and we were able to increase our
speed. I am very pleased with this win, obviously."
Meanwhile, Betis striker Jorge Molina admitted that "it will be very
difficult now for us to avoid relegation. We didn't play badly, but
the red card was a bit harsh and left our game plan in ruins."
Later Sunday, Valencia beat local rivals Villarreal 2-1 at home, on a
brace from veteran midfielder Javi Fuego. Giovani dos Santos pulled a
goal back for the visitors but it came too late to save them.
The win took Valencia up to eighth and left Villarreal in seventh
place, one point behind sixth-placed Real Sociedad.
Earlier Sunday, Sevilla won 2-1 at lowly Osasuna to move into fifth
Promising youngster Jairo gave Sevilla the lead in the 28th minute
with a left-foot drive, after being set up by Vitolo.
A bizarre incident just before half-time sealed Osasuna's fate. Jairo
hit the crossbar with a powerful drive, Osasuna defender Damia
controlled the rebound but then picked up the ball with his hands,
believing he had been fouled by Vitolo.
Instead, to Osasuna's fury, a penalty was given for handball and
Carlos Bacca calmly made it 2-0 from the spot.
Carlos Acuna scored a consolation goal in stoppage time for the hosts
who are fifth from bottom.
It was Sevilla's fifth straight win and took them up to fifth, one
point above Real Sociedad.
They are also in the quarter-finals of the Europa League after
beating crosstown rivals Real Betis on penalties Thursday.
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