It was a weekend of all round football matches, history written, vital goals scored, controversies trailed matches and lots more – but here are some of the high and lows of the weekend.
STORM CLOUD APPROACHING MADRID
Real Madrid slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat at Levante thanks to Jose Luis Morales’ stunning late winner, as Los Blancos produced a not so good display and lost Eden Hazard to injury ahead of a stern coming weeks.
Karim Benzema wasted a glorious chance in the first 45 minutes, while Eden Hazard who was withdraw later in the game in with what appeared to be a calf injury in the second period – also squandered a begging chance on goal. Zinedine Zidane’s men created the better chances in Valencia but were wasteful in front of goal.
Jose Luis Morales scored a spectacular late winner to secure Levante a 1-0 win over Real Madrid with a Venom strike, who trail Barcelona ahead of next weekend El-classico clash.
In a match where Real Madrid made 12 total shots vs Levante in the first half, more than any other single game away from home at the half time in all competitions this season (Opta Joe).
This therefore implies that Madrid head into next weekend’s Clasico trailing Barcelona – who thrashed Eibar 5-0 earlier on by two points and possibly without the injured Eden Hazard and also heading into the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter against Manchester City in the Mid-week.
It’s been a turbulent moment for the Catalans ahead of their clash with Eibar relating to administrative and off field issues. But if there’s any player in the the camp to take them off the trying moment; has to be Messi. Lionel Messi scored four goals as Barcelona cruise to a 5-0 victory at home to Eibar on Saturday.
The Argentine star broke the deadlock after 14 minutes with a brilliant individual goal, nutmegging defender Anaitz Arbilla, holding off another defender before netting to goal. That ends his four games drought without a goal.
He then added a superb second after good work by Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal, cutting through the defence and slotting home after 37 minutes.
He completed his hat trick on 40 minutes as he took advantage of some lax defending. New signing Martin Braithwaite came on for his debut with late on and had a hand in the fourth as his effort was saved into Messi’s path. Artur added a fifth on 89 minutes as Barca returned to the top of the table.
RONALDO WRITING HISTORY
Debate still ongoing whether or not the Portuguese talisman is the Greatest Player of All Time, but one thing is certainly sure – he’ll be remembered as one of the greatest player of his time.
Saturday’s clash between Juventus and SPAL at the Stadio Paolo Mazza was the 1000th senior match of Ronaldo’s illustrious careers – and still counting.
His strike, tapping in from close range after Juan Cuadrado’s cross into the box in that game means Ronaldo has equaled a record 11 consecutives games of scoring in Serie A. It was his 42nd goal in Serie A since joining the league last season.
Also Ronaldo has now equalled Rui Costa’s record for the most goals scored by a Portuguese player in Serie A. But, remarkably, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United man has done so in 52 games compared to Costa’s 339 – a difference of 287.
GIROUD MAKES HIS MARK
Chelsea third-choice striker Olivier Giroud had not started a Premier League game since November 30th but sent a big message to Frank Lampard against Premier League rivals Tottenham on Saturday. The French man was called upon to deputize for the absent Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi ahead of the battle for top.
The former Arsenal talisman was disappointed when his January transfer request away from Stanford bridge didn’t go through as he has seen him fall in pecking order to the more favour Tammy Abraham and Mitchy Batshuayi. Tammy was out injured and Batshuayi dropped completely due his lackadaisical show against United in the previous match. But the French man didn’t disappoint the faith put in him by the Chelsea boss – Frank Lampard.
Ross Barkley hammered Giroud’s rebound against the post, only for the ball to land again at his feet, and the world cup winner did no mistake to arrowed his second efforts into the bottom-right corner. It later ended 2-1 in favour of the Blues. A match in which Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are the first team to defeat a side managed by Jose Mourinho both home and away in a single league season.
BRUNO OPENS UNITED ACCOUNT
Bruno Fernandes opened his United account score chart after he was brought down by Watford keeper Ben Foster in the box. He then slot home a 42ndminute penalty. Anthony Martial then clipped home a glorious finish just before the hour mark to give his side breathing space.
Mason Greenwood completed the scoring after 74th minutes with an excellent strike. Odion Ighalo almost open his scoring chart after rounding off the Watford GK to shoot from a tight angel which later didn’t materialized
This move Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to within three points of the Champions League places.