FC Barcelona and Real Madrid got pulses racing in Spain, thrashing Atlético Madrid and Rayo Vallecano respectively on Saturday night.
David Villa produced a sharp finish to give Barcelona a ninth-minute lead and the game looked to be up for Atlético just six minutes later when Thibaut Courtois saved Lionel Messi’s shot, only for the loose ball to cannon into the net off defender Miranda. Messi showcased some of his quicksilver skills for the third, finishing after a drop of the shoulder wrong-footed the Atlético defence. The Argentinian produced further sparkling finishes on 78 and 91 minutes to make it 5-0.
Michu put Rayo Vallecano ahead within a minute of kick-off at the Santiago Bernabéu, but it only served to rile Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuaín put José Mourinho’s side 2-1 up at the break, and Ronaldo made it 3-1 from the penalty spot soon after. Michu struck again for Rayo and Ángel Di María’s dismissal raised hopes of a comeback, but Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema struck again for Real Madrid, and Ronaldo completed his treble with another penalty.
Earlier on, Frédéric Kanouté struck after 18 minutes to send Sevilla on their way to a 1-0 win against on-song Valencia. Sevilla ended the game with nine men, and Valencia with ten, with Unai Emery’s side left to regret an Éver Banega penalty that hit the post.
Athletic Club’s meeting with Villarreal was a little less fraught; Igor Gabilondo put the Bilbao side ahead, but Nilmar struck back after break, with Athletic’s Borja Ekiza seeing red with nine minutes remaining.