MADRID - Barcelona went second in La Liga
after Lionel Messi scored a brilliant hat-trick in a 5-0 win
over Atletico Madrid on Saturday while Cristiano Ronaldo
recorded another treble in 10-man Real Madrid's 6-2 drubbing of
The two Spanish heavyweights dropped points in their
previous games but returned to winning ways with dominant home
performances engineered by their two outstanding players.
Valencia suffered their first defeat of the season when they
were beaten 1-0 at nine-man Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao's new
coach Marcelo Bielsa is still without a win after the Basque
club surrendered the lead in a 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal.
Champions Barca, bidding for a fourth straight title, have
11 points from five games, level with third-placed Sevilla and
one ahead of Real Madrid and Valencia.
Promoted Real Betis, the surprise early leaders, have 12
points from four games and visit Getafe on Monday.
Atletico had the first clear chance at a rainy Nou Camp when
Jose Antonio Reyes squared for Tiago and the Portuguese
midfielder curled a shot from the edge of the penalty area that
struck the crossbar.
That was as good as it got for Gregorio Manzano's side as
Barca, who drew 2-2 at Valencia on Wednesday, were ahead in the
A superb pass from playmaker Xavi sent David Villa clear and
he turned inside his marker before rifling a low shot past
keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Barca doubled their lead six minutes later when World Player
of the Year Messi and Pedro combined and the ball deflected in
for an own goal off defender Joao Miranda.
Messi made it 3-0 in the 26th minute when he flummoxed the
Atletico defence with an outrageous piece of skill before
curling a precise shot inside the post.
His second came after a trademark run across the defence and
shot back across the keeper and he completed the hat-trick in
added time when he ran on to a Villa chip and shot through the
legs of Courtois from a tight angle.
At the Bernabeu earlier, Real got the morale-boosting win
they were looking for after a shock 1-0 defeat at Levante and a
0-0 draw against Racing Santander in their previous two games.
The home support were given an early fright as Vallecano,
whose annual budget is a fraction of their illustrious city
neighbours, scored a goal timed at 12 seconds when Michu
followed up a blocked Raul Tamudo effort.
The visitors had a couple of chances to extend their lead,
prompting frustrated whistling from the home fans before Ronaldo
equalised in the 39th minute and Gonzalo Higuain put Real ahead
in first-half stoppage-time.
Ronaldo, who scored three against Real Zaragoza last month,
made it 3-1 from the penalty spot in the 51st after Kaka was
felled but Michu scored a second goal four minutes later.
Home forward Angel di Maria then picked up a second yellow
card and was sent off after 56 minutes.
Real restored their two-goal lead when teenage defender
Raphael Varane diverted a corner into the roof of the net.
Mesut Ozil set up fellow substitute Karim Benzema for the
fifth goal in the 73rd minute before Ronaldo grabbed his third
with another penalty.
"We didn't play very well in the opening 20 minutes but we
did after that," Real playmaker Kaka said in a television
interview. "It's tough to concede a goal at the start of a game
but we showed character.
"This result has helped us recover our confidence. I
personally felt great and I am trying to make good use of the
chances the coach gives me."
Valencia squandered a chance to go top when Ever Banega
fluffed a penalty and they lost a bad-tempered clash at the
Visiting Valencia finished with 10 men after Aritz Aduriz
was sent off for stamping on the foot of Emir Spahic with 20
Sevilla midfielder Piotr Trochowski and defender Julien
Escude were also dismissed in the 57th and 68th minutes
Striker Frederic Kanoute, 34, put Sevilla ahead in the 18th
minute before Banega struck his 69th-minute spot-kick against
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