Thursday, April 27, 2017
LA LIGA: Real Madrid, Barcelona still neck and neck after big wins
BARCELONA - Real Madrid thrashed Deportivo La Coruna 6-2 to stay level with Barcelona at the top of La Liga on Wednesday after the Catalans crushed Osasuna 7-1, condemning the minnows to relegation.
Lionel Messi, Andre Gomes and Paco Alcacer scored twice each and Javier Mascherano netted his first goal for the club from the penalty spot as Barcelona built on Sunday's Clasico victory.
Real, though, showed they would not be easily toppled.
Zinedine Zidane made nine changes for the trip to the Riazor but Madrid’s reserves still made light work of Depor, with Isco running the show and finding the net along with James Rodriguez, who hit a brace, Alvaro Morata, Lucas Vazquez and substitute Casemiro.
Madrid have 78 points from 33 games, while Barcelona have the same tally from one game more.
Osasuna, rooted in 20th place, were relegated after 17th-placed Leganes beat Las Palmas 3-0 to move 12 points clear of the bottom club, an insurmountable total with four games to go because of their inferior head-to-head record.
“We had to win. We have suffered a lot since January. We’ve lacked both points and luck, and when that’s the case it’s hard to turn things around,” said Osasuna coach Petar Vasiljevic.
Messi opened the scoring with a mazy dribble capped with a neat chip over goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu before Gomes volleyed home Ivan Rakitic’s cross to double the lead.
Roberto Torres whipped in a free kick just after halftime to drag his team back into the match before Barcelona ran riot with a flurry of goals.
“I think it was a complete performance," said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique. "When they got back to 2-1, which was the worst moment because they’re back in the game and you never know, we were able to put our foot on the accelerator and close the game out.
“The way we played, we deserved to win by a large margin.”
Madrid deserved much the same against Depor after dominating from the start.
It took Alvaro Morata just 52 seconds to find the net after being played in by Isco with James Rodriguez slamming home the second from a Lucas Vazquez cross.
Florin Andone scored from close range, stabbing home Gael Kakuta’s cross-shot in the 35th minute, to give his side a glimmer of hope but nine minutes later Vazquez scored Madrid's third.
Rodriguez and Isco struck before Joselu’s header gave Depor fans some late cheer but Casemiro had the last word and restored Madrid's four-goal lead in the 87th minute.
"Isco was phenomenal," said Zidane. "He does things on the pitch that not everybody can. The fans congratulated him, I am happy for him, for the work he does. When he has to play he always does his job."
(Editing by Toby Davis, Neville Dalton, Nick Mulvenney)