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Real Madrid, Barcelona win, keep La Liga soccer race tight in league’s return

Real Madrid, Barcelona win, keep La Liga soccer race tight in league’s return

Spanish soccer rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona each picked up victories to stay close atop the La Liga standings as the season resumed after a suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sevilla beat Real Betis 2-0 Thursday in the first game of the resumed season. Real Sociedad and Eibar battled in La Liga’s last squabble on March 10 before the campaign was stopped.

Four La Liga teams took the field Friday. Barcelona star Lionel Messi showed little rust Saturday in a 4-0 thrashing of Mallorca. Messi had a goal and two assists in the victory.

Jordi Alba assisted Arturo Vidal for Barcelona’s first goal of the shutout victory. Messi then assisted Martin Braithwaite in the 37th minute for a 2-0 edge. Messi assisted Alba for a 3-0 lead in the 79th minute before he put himself in the scoring column.

Fellow forward Luis Suarez split the defense and raced up the pitch before he reached the box during the stoppage-time sequence. Suarez then slipped a pass to his left to find the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. Messi carried the ball on his left boot before he switched to his other foot. He slid the ball to his right and navigated around a trio of Mallorca defenders before he ripped a shot into the upper right section of the net.

Messi became the first player in history to score at least 20 goals in 12 consecutive La Liga seasons in the victory. He has 20 goals and 14 assists this season, which both lead the league.

“The feelings are good,” Barcelona manager Quique Setien told reporters. “There are always things that you want to improve, but I am satisfied with the game we have made.”

Real Madrid beats Eibar

Real Madrid beat Eibar 3-1 Sunday in Madrid to stay within two points of La Liga leader Barcelona. Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo all scored in the first half of the victory. Pedro Bigas scored Eibar’s lone goal in the 60th minute.

“For us to set foot on the pitch again is a huge blessing,” Ramos told RealMadrid.com. “And it’s a big positive for the whole country to have football back, to provide entertainment and get business and the economy back up and running so that everything returns to its natural place.

“It’s important for everyone.”

Real Madrid wasted no time to draw first blood in the affair, when Kroos scored in the 4th minute. Kroos stood on the edge of the box before he lifted a right-footed shot over the head of Eibar keeper Marko Dmitrovic for a 1-0 edge.

Ramos doubled the lead in the 30th minute. The star defender capped off a breakaway sequence when he finished a point-blank shot into an open net after he got a quick pass from Eden Hazard.

Marcelo scored Real Madrid’s final goal less than six minutes later. The Brazilian left back collected a rebound during that sequence before he ripped a shot into the far-post netting.

Marcelo celebrated with a kneel inside the box before he lifted his fist toward the sky in honor of George Floyd.

La Liga results

Sevilla 2, Real Betis 0

Granada 2, Getafe 1

Levante 1, Valencia 1

Espanyol 2, Alaves 0

Villarreal 1, Celta Vigo 0

Valladolid 2, Leganes 1

Barcelona 4, Mallorca 0

Athletic Club 1, Atletico Madrid 1

Real Madrid 3, Eibar 1

Osasuna 1, Real Sociedad 1

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