European football round-up: Barcelona hit six

Sport360 staff 11/02/2017
Plenty of goals on Saturday.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all on target as Barcelona went top of La Liga for the first time since October with a 6-0 thrashing of Alaves on Saturday.

In a dress rehearsal of the Copa del Rey final, Alaves paid for their semi-final exertions against Celta Vigo in midweek as Barca moved two points ahead of Real Madrid

However, Madrid have three games in hand, starting with a visit to Osasuna later on Saturday evening.

Barca's success was overshadowed, though, by violent clashes between fans outside the ground before kick-off which left one supporter in hospital with serious head injuries.

Both sides later released statements condemning the violence.

And in another blow to the Catalans, Aleix Vidal was stretchered off with a horrible looking ankle injury just three minutes from time.

"I go away with very good feelings from the football perspective, for the result and the way we achieved it," said Barca boss Luis Enrique.

"But I am upset by Aleix's injury, the way it came about and what it means for him."

Vidal had only recently established himself back in the team after being sidelined by Enrique for the majority of the season.

"It is something serious, but we have to wait until the doctors see it and can say," added Enrique.

On the field, Enrique rotated his squad once more with six changes from Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid that secured their place in a fourth consecutive Cup final.

However, despite a trip to Paris Saint-Germain upcoming on Tuesday, Messi, Suarez and Neymar were all included and ran riot.

The visitors had goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to thank for not going behind early on with a brilliant one-on-one save from Theo Hernandez.

There was no doubt over the outcome once Barca went in front thanks to a fine team move finished off by Suarez from close range eight minutes before half-time.

A goalkeeping error from Fernando Pachecho allowed Barca to double their lead three minutes later as he punched a loose ball off Suarez's head and the ball rebounded for Neymar to tap into an empty net.

The champions hit top form after the break with four further goals in eight minutes.

Messi drilled his 34th goal of the season low past Pacheco just before the hour mark.

The Argentine was then played in by Suarez, but the last touch came off Alaves defender Alexis to make it 4-0.

Ivan Rakitic blasted home the fifth from Suarez's cut-back before the Uruguayan rounded off the rout himself after Pacheco had parried Neymar's initial effort.

Yet, Barca's fine day was spoiled late on when Vidal's right ankle gave way under an innocuous looking challenge from Hernandez.

The jet-heeled Sadio Mane scored a quick-fire brace as Liverpool revitalised their Premier League campaign with an impressive 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Saturday.

Senegalese flier Mane netted twice in three first-half minutes as Jurgen Klopp's team claimed a first league win of 2017 at the sixth attempt and ended Spurs' nine-game unbeaten run.

Liverpool moved back into the top four, above Manchester City, who visit Bournemouth on Monday, and Manchester United, who briefly climbed above them after beating Watford 2-0.

Tottenham remain second, but they are now level on points with Arsenal after Alexis Sanchez scored twice to earn Arsene Wenger's side a much-needed 2-0 victory over Hull City.

Spurs' setback means Chelsea can move 12 points clear at the summit if they win at Burnley on Sunday.

While the title seems destined for Stamford Bridge, the battle for positions below Chelsea could not be more tight, with two points separating Spurs in second and United in sixth.

Liverpool badly missed Mane during his time at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal and he gave a dazzling display of his qualities with two goals in the first 18 minutes at Anfield.

For the first goal, in the 16th minute, he raced onto Georginio Wijnaldum's pass before lifting a shot past Hugo Lloris.

Two minutes later he made it 2-0 with his 11th goal of the season, sparking a raid on the Spurs box by robbing Eric Dier and then slamming in after Lloris had saved from Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino.

At the Emirates Stadium, Sanchez brought the under-fire Wenger some breathing space as Arsenal overcame third-bottom Hull.

The Chilean forward contentiously scored with his hand in the 34th minute and netted a stoppage-time penalty after Sam Clucas had been sent off for handball to take his tally for the campaign to 17 goals.

It got Arsenal back to winning ways following successive defeats by Watford and Chelsea and left them in third place, nine points behind Chelsea.

Wenger dismissed a claim by former Arsenal striker Ian Wright that he had admitted his time at the club was coming to an end.

United closed to within a point of the Champions League places by beating Watford, Anthony Martial marking his return to the starting XI by scoring and setting up the opener for Juan Mata.

Jose Mourinho's side have now gone 16 league games unbeaten and while they remain sixth, they are just a point below both Liverpool and City.

Seventh-place Everton squandered a chance to close on the teams above them after being held to a 0-0 draw at sixth-bottom Middlesbrough.

Sunderland remain bottom of the table after Southampton's new Italian striker Manolo Gabbiadini scored a slick brace in a 4-0 win at the Stadium of Light.

Jason Denayer also put through his own goal before Shane Long completed the scoring in added time.

Second-bottom Crystal Palace were also beaten, Joe Allen scoring in the second half to give Stoke City a 1-0 win that saw Mark Hughes's team climb to ninth.

Gareth McAuley was credited with a stoppage-time equaliser for West Bromwich Albion in a 2-2 draw at West Ham United.

After Nacer Chadli put West Brom ahead in the fifth minute, West Ham hit back through Sofiane Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini, only for McAuley to get a decisive touch to Jonny Evans's header at the death.

Meanwhile, Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben netted last-minute goals in Bayern Munich's 2-0 win at Ingolstadt on Saturday to open a seven-point lead as their main Bundesliga rivals all lost.

Bayern, who host Arsenal on Wednesday in the Champions League last 16 first leg, broke the deadlock when Vidal ghosted in behind the Ingolstadt defence and put his side ahead on 90 minutes.

Robben netted just 60 seconds later to seal victory in the Bavaria derby.

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STAT: Cavani is Mr. Prolific in Europe

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Edinson Cavani

Ever since Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s move to Manchester United, his shoes have been duly filled by Edinson Cavani at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

The Uruguayan international has been in the form of his life. Cavani has come to the rescue of his team time and again and has been clinical up front.

Cavani’s more-than-impressive goal record this season has been instrumental in PSG keeping their Ligue 1 title hopes alive.

Our friends at WhoScored.com have pulled compiled this stat which points towards Cavani being the first player to score 25 goals in Europe’s top five leagues this season, reaching the milestone on his 23rd appearance.

Cavani’s lethal finishing is certainly cause for concern for Barcelona, who face PSG in the Champions League next.

Let us know your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

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Football Wrap: Rampant Lukaku, Barca hunt down Madrid

Eden Hazard's exquisite strike inspired Premier League leaders Chelsea to a 3-1 victory over Arsenal that shattered their rivals' title challenge on Saturday.

Belgian winger Hazard left a trail of defenders in his wake to double Chelsea's lead in the 53rd minute at Stamford Bridge.

Marcos Alonso had opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a contentious effort as the Chelsea defender clattered into Arsenal's Hector Bellerin before heading home.

Cesc Fabregas rubbed salt into Arsenal's wounds in the 85th minute when the former Gunners midfielder chipped into the empty net after a woeful miskick from ex-Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. Olivier Giroud's stoppage-time goal was no consolation for third placed Arsenal, who trail Chelsea by 12 points with 14 games remaining. At the KCOM Stadium, Liverpool fell behind against Hull City in the 44th minute when Alfred N'Diaye took advantage of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet's poor handling to bag a debut goal. Jurgen Klopp's side were finished off in the 84th minute when on-loan Everton striker Oumar Niasse raced clear to boost third bottom Hull's survival bid. Jermain Defoe's double helped Sunderland to a 4-0 hammering of fellow Premier League relegation battlers Crystal Palace and left their former manager and now Palace handler Sam Allardyce plenty to think about. Romelu Lukaku was simply unstoppable as the Belgium striker scored four times in Everton's 6-3 thrashing of Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday. Lukaku struck after just 31 seconds at Goodison Park and Ronald Koeman's team took full advantage of the early boost. The 23-year-old's quick-fire effort set the stage for a blizzard of goals as James McCarthy doubled Everton's lead and Lukaku pounced again before half-time. Josh King's brace gave Bournemouth hope, but Lukaku hit two more in the closing stages to cap his memorable day.   Radamel Falcao scored a second-half brace as Monaco defeated Nice 3-0 on Saturday to carve open a three-point lead ahead of their Cote d'Azur rivals at the top of Ligue 1. Lionel Messi struck another trademark free-kick as Barcelona moved to within a one point of La Liga leaders Real Madrid with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao . Bayern Munich left the door open for second-placed RB Leipzig to trim their lead in the Bundesliga to one point after being held to a 1-1 draw by Schalke. Robert Lewandowski's deft chip gave Bayern an early lead in Munich before Schalke defender Naldo drilled home a free-kick on 13 minutes to level the scores.

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