Lionel Messi celebrated the birth of his second son by coming off the bench to score the winner as Barcelona came from behind to claim a vital 2-1 win away at Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Real Madrid remain two points behind Barca at the top of the table after Cristiano Ronaldo became the club’s all-time leading scorer in La Liga with five goals in a 6-0 rout of Espanyol.
Messi started on the sidelines having missed training on Friday to attend the birth, a day after returning from international duty.
However, he was still to make the decisive contribution as he nonchalantly flicked home the winner 11 minutes from time after Neymar had cancelled out Fernando Torres’s opener.
Even without Messi, Barca were the dominant side early on at the Calderon with Ivan Rakitic forcing Jan Oblak into the first serious save of the game with a fierce drive from a narrow angle.
Torres was again chosen ahead of Jackson Martinez in attack for Atletico and he wasted the hosts’ best chance of the first-half when he blasted over under pressure from Javier Mascherano.
Luis Suarez should have given Barca the lead midway through the half when he turned Rafinha’s flick onto the crossbar from point-blank range.
Jose Maria Gimenez then made a terrific block to deny Neymar the opener after a rapid counter-attack from Barca, but the Uruguayan was also fortunate the referee didn’t point to the spot as the ball ricocheted off his hand to safety.
GOAL!! Messi gives Barca the lead against Atletico Madrid. https://t.co/eWHFw8bfVh
— Troll Football (@Troll__Football) September 12, 2015
Atletico struck first six minutes after the break when Torres latched onto Tiago’s through ball and his shot found the net via the far post.
However, the lead lasted barely three minutes as in the absence of Messi, Neymar was given the chance to strike a free-kick from the edge of the area and arrowed the ball into Oblak’s top right-hand corner.
Messi was introduced for the final half hour by Barca boss Luis Enrique and he and Neymar combined to set up a great chance for Suarez only for the former Liverpool man to scuff wide.
A neat exchange then followed between Messi and Suarez that freed the Argentine to lift the ball over Oblak into the far corner.
Anthony Martial scored a memorable debut goal as Manchester United beat old enemies Liverpool 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday to claim second place in the Premier League table.
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The 19-year-old French striker signed from Monaco on transfer deadline day for a reported initial fee of €49 million euros, making him the world’s most expensive teenager, and he was quick to make his mark after coming on as a substitute for Juan Mata.
Christian Benteke had just halved United’s two-goal lead with a sensational overhead bicycle kick when Martial picked the ball up wide on the left, tip-toed between three defenders and tucked a shot into the bottom-right corner in front of the Stretford End.
Second-half goals from Daley Blind and Ander Herrera had put United in control and Martial’s strike provided the perfect finale to an evening that had begun with David de Gea returning to the United goal following the collapse of his move to Real Madrid.
Victory saw Louis van Gaal’s side return to winning ways following their 2-1 defeat at Swansea City and left them in second place, above Arsenal on goal difference and five points below leaders Manchester City.
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) September 12, 2015
Benteke’s breath-taking goal had briefly given Liverpool hope, but instead manager Brendan Rodgers was left to reflect on a second successive defeat following their 3-0 loss at home to West Ham United.
There were cheers for De Gea as he took his place in goal and the Spaniard was given a gentle re-introduction to life at Old Trafford as United immediately put the visitors on the back foot.
United made a change at the interval, Ashley Young replacing Memphis Depay, and the substitute was quick to make his presence felt, darting between two Liverpool defenders on the left and winning a free-kick that yielded the opening goal.
Mata rolled the set-piece to the edge of the box and with Bastian Schweinsteiger blocking off Nathaniel Clyne at the near post, Blind had the freedom of the penalty area to pick his spot.
Blind then came to United’s rescue, clearing Martin Skrtel’s header off his own goal-line and then flying out to thwart Firmino when the ball came back into the box.
Martial made his United bow in the 65th minute, replacing Mata, and within five minutes the home side had doubled their lead.
Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot after Liverpool’s teenage left-back Joe Gomez recklessly slid in on Herrera and the Spaniard slammed home the penalty.
Jordon Ibe’s introduction enlivened Liverpool, the 19-year-old extending De Gea with a left-foot strike and then teeing up Benteke’s spectacular goal with a deflected cross from the right.
But barely a minute later Martial stole everyone’s thunder, slaloming into the box from wide on the left to give the United faithful a new hero to serenade.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened his account for the season in spectacular fashion with five goals as Real Madrid thrashed Espanyol 6-0 on Saturday.
The result was never in doubt once the visitors took the lead seven minutes in, though, as Ronaldo controlled Luka Modric’s brilliant through ball before placing the ball inside the far post.
Gareth Bale was playing once more in a central role behind Benzema in attack and produced his best performance in a Madrid shirt for some time as his driving run into the box was cut short by Alvaro Gonzalez.
Ronaldo converted the resulting penalty confidently and was the beneficiary of another Bale assist moments later to level Madrid legend Raul’s record of 228 league goals for the club.
Another surging run from Bale helped set up the fourth as he fed Ronaldo and the former Manchester United man squared for Benzema to apply a simple finish.
Benzema could have even added a fifth before half-time as his driven effort was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Espanyol ‘keeper Pau Lopez.
Bale was the creator once more when the fifth did arrive just after the hour mark as he unselfishly teed up Ronaldo to roll home his fourth of the afternoon.
And Ronaldo matched his own personal record of five goals in a game when Madrid smashed Granada 9-1 last season by thumping home Lucas Vazquez’s pass 10 minutes from time.
Victory moves Madrid to the top of the table, one point ahead of Atletico Madrid and Barcelona who face off later on.
— 8 Fact Football (@8Fact_Footballl) September 12, 2015