Barcelona gets 6th win in 6 rounds, Atletico beats Sevilla
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 24, 2017 07:01 AM
FC Barcelona's Andre Gomes, left, duels for the ball against Girona during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Girona and FC Barcelona at the Montilivi stadium in Girona, Spain, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Girona succeeded in stopping Barcelona star Lionel Messi from scoring.
If only it could have avoided its own net as well.
Barcelona made it six wins in as many games in the Spanish league on Saturday when it won 3-0 at Girona thanks to a pair of own goals by the hosts.
Barcelona went head in the Catalan regional derby when Girona defender Aday Benitez deflected Jordi Alba's off-target shot back into his net in the 17th minute.
Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Aleix Vidal helped provoke a second goal three minutes after halftime, when Suarez deftly let Vidal's dangerous short pass go through his legs, hit surprised goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz and turned into the net.
Barcelona increased its lead of the league to four points after Atletico Madrid beat Sevilla 2-0 to leapfrog the Andalucian club into second place. Sevilla is five points behind, followed by Real Madrid at seven points adrift after it won at Alaves 2-1.
The decision by Girona coach Pablo Machin to man-mark Lionel Messi with Pablo Maffeo helped stop him from adding to his best ever start to a Liga. Messi scored nine goals in the first five rounds.
"I don't think that Messi was the decisive player that he usually is," Machin said. "We tried, but we were playing against some of the best players in the world. When you score in our own net it makes it very tough."
Suarez rounded off Barcelona's victory in the 69th when he was left all alone to take Sergi Roberto's lobbed pass and beat Iraizoz.
It was Suarez's second goal in six appearances this season.
The Uruguay striker had been struggling this season, hampered by a right knee injury and adapting to life after the departure of attack partner Neymar.
Real Madrid turned to new midfielder Dani Ceballos to help it get back on the winning path.
The midfielder made the most of his first start for Zinedine Zidane's team by scoring twice in the victory at last-place Alaves.
The win came three days after Madrid lost 1-0 at home to Ceballos' former team, Real Betis. That slip combined with a pair of home draws left the defending champions trailing leader Barcelona.
Ceballos received a pass from Marco Asensio, fought through a tackle, and shot just inside the post for the 10th-minute opener.
Manu Garcia responded with Alaves' first goal of the season.
But Ceballos put Madrid back in charge before halftime when he fired in a ball that goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco spilled when he collided with a teammate while defending a cross.
Alaves almost leveled late when substitute Alfonso Pedraza twice hit the woodwork.
Cristiano Ronaldo also hit the goal-frame twice in the second half as the Madrid forward seeks his first goal in the league.
Diego Costa watched from the stands of Atletico's new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium as his soon-to-be teammates Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco scored in the second half to down Sevilla.
Atletico reached a deal with Chelsea this week for Costa to return to his former club. Atletico will host Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Diego Rolan scored a double to help Malaga rally from a two-goal deficit in the final minutes and draw with visitor Athletic Bilbao 3-3. Malaga secured its first point of the season after it lost its first five matches.