As usual, this weekend was full of fast-paced football & some dramatic encounters. We didn’t have Premier League this week but F.A cup ties didn’t disappoint as we got our final 6(Arsenal to play Sutton United tonight & Mancity to re play Huddersonfield at the Etihad).
This is how the table looks after match day 23:
League leaders, Real Madrid welcomed Espanyol for their 21st league game of the season at the Santiago Bernabeu. There were a lot of changes as Zidane wanted a fresh team to travel to Mestalla. Kovacic, Isco, Lucas, Nacho, Pepe, Casilla & Morata got their fair chance on the pitch & didn’t disappoint. Isco especially was exceptional as he assisted both the goals. Morata headed the first one home after Isco’s brilliant cross set him up perfectly. Gareth Bale returned to action after being out for nearly 3 months & missing 17 games(all competitions). The return couldn’t have gone any better as he scored after Isco’s measured through ball let the Welshman stretch his legs. Espanyol didn’t turn up for the match & it was a very one-sided affair, to put it mildly.
FT: RMA 2-0 ESP
Barcelona played 17th place Leganes at Camp Nou & the fixture wasn’t a cakewalk for Barca by any means. Lionel Messi opened the scoring just 4 minutes after kick-off & it was looking like business as usual for the Catalans. But a gritty Leganes side kept pushing on & finally equalised in the 71st minute through Unai Lopez’s strike. Iniesta came on in the 80th minute to mark his 400th appearance for the club. Barca turned on the style as Herrerin was forced into making a couple of saves. 89th minute, Barcelona got a penalty as Neymar was brought down in the area. Messi calmly slotted the ball into the far-left corner. 3 points salvaged.
FT: BAR 2-0 LEG
(Messi x2), (Lopez)
Sevilla hosted Eibar as they look to reclaim that 2nd spot on the table. Sarabia opened the scoring for Sevilla as the new recruit, Jovetic set the Spaniard up. But the night wasn’t over yet as Stefan set Vitolo up for the second in the 91st minute. A perfect evening for Stefan Jovetic. Villareal got one injury time goal thanks to Castillejo which meant they got all 3 points from Sociedad. Valencia, 15th on the table got a solid 2-0 win against 8th placed Athletic. Nani & Zaza got one each for Valencia. Celta convincingly swept Osasuna aside as they marched on to a solid 3-0 victory. Aspas, Jozabed, Sisto were on the scoresheet. Granada got an emphatic 4-1 win against Betis at home. Deportivo on the other hand, couldn’t overcome Alaves & lost by a goal to nil.
SEV 2-0 EIB
SOC 0-1 VIL
VAL 2-0 ATH
CEL 3-0 OSA
(Sisto, Jozabed, Aspas)
GRA 4-1 BET
(Gonzales, Ramos x2, Pereira) (Petros)
DEP 0-1 ALA
Match Of The Week:
We had some brilliant ties this week, but Atletico’s trip to El Molinón was the match of the week for me. Carrasco opened the scoring for Atletico but Gijon restored parity within 3 minutes. Then it was a substitute’s chance to shine, Gameiro came on for Correa in the 62nd minute & struck his first 18 minutes later. 5 mins later he was celebrating his hat-trick. A new yardstick for supersubs.
GIJ 1-4 ATM
(Alvarez)(Carrasco, Gameiro x3)
Burnley 0-1 Lincoln
Huddersonfield 0-0 Manchester City(Replay at the Etihad)
Middlesbrough 3-2 Oxford
Millwall 1-0 Leicester
Wolverhampton 0-2 Chelsea
Fulham 0-3 Spurs
Blackburn 1-2 Manchester United
No real surprises here apart from Leicester’s early exit. We’ll have some juicy ties next round as well, but none tops Chelsea Vs Manchester United. Ties to be played on 11th March.