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LaLiga returns with Messi, Castro goals vital at top and bottom

LaLiga’s return from the international break saw the incredible Lionel Messi once again the hero as Barcelona remained on course for the 2017/18 title, while Chory Castro’s penalty gave Malaga some hope of an unlikely escape from relegation.

messi
Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions League round of sixteen second leg football match between FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on March 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE

Barça were 2-0 down at Sevilla, thanks to goals from the home side’s South Americans Franco Vazquez and Luis Muriel, and in deep trouble when Messi entered as a substitute on 57 minutes. The comeback first saw Luis Suarez hook acrobatically to the net, then the Blaugrana talisman home from outside the area in the 89th minute to save Barca’s unbeaten LaLiga record.

Atlético Madrid did however cut the gap at the top to nine points, with Kevin Gameiro’s first half penalty enough for a victory at home to Deportivo La Coruna, although the Galicians had chances to gain more from a first ever visit to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.

Third placed Real Madrid were always in control against 18th placed Las Palmas on Saturday afternoon. Gareth Bale opened the scoring with a typical burst clear and emphatic finish, with penalties from captain for the day Karim Benzema and Welsh galactico Bale again bringing a 3-0 result.

Valencia kept close to Real and Atlético after Spain international Rodrigo Moreno’s 13th LaLiga goal of 2017/18 – a well struck low 25 yarder – brought a 1-0 win at Leganes on Sunday afternoon.

In Saturday lunchtime’s 1-1 draw at Montilivi. Alex Granell’s long range curler was the first LaLiga goal of the Girona captain’s career, but Jose Luis Morales’ well taken equaliser means 17th placed Levante are now four LaLiga games unbeaten.

Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at San Mames on Saturday afternoon – with Athletic defender Unai Nunez and Celta substitute Brais Mendez both also netting for the first time in LaLiga.

Sunday lunchtime’s hard-fought Basque derby ended goalless, with Real Sociedad’s new coach Imanol Alguacil starting out with a well-earned point at neighbors Eibar. Goalkeepers Pau Lopez and Fernando Pacheco were the stars as it finished Espanyol 0-0 Alavés later that day.

Bottom side Malaga gained some Easter Sunday hope of a revival with a 1-0 victory over Villarreal at La Roselada. Uruguay international Castro’s coolly converted penalty brought a first win in 14 LaLiga outings for Los Boquerones, whose fate remains in their own hands.


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