La Liga: Barcelona hit four against Mallorca in return to action
La Liga leaders FC Barcelona returned to action after a three-month layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic with a comfortable 4-0 win away to Real Mallorca on Saturday night.
Arturo Vidal, Martin Braithwaite, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi scored the goals that extended Barca’s lead at the top of the table to four points over Real Madrid, who entertain Eibar on Sunday.
Barca coach Quique Setien produced two surprises in his starting 11 with Ronald Araujo starting in central defense and Vidal in midfield, and it worked perfectly as Vidal opened the scoring in the second minute with a powerful header from an Alba cross.
The league leaders dominated for 15 minutes, before Takefusa Kubo produced a left foot shot that Marc-Andre ter Stegen needed to be at full stretch to keep out, and the Japanese winger later forced the Barca keeper into another good save with a powerful free kick, reports Xinhua news agency.
Barca weren’t comfortable, but doubled their lead in the 36th minute when Braithwaite scored his first goal for the club with a smart finish after a ball from the left was flicked on by Messi.
Mallorca started the second half well, but ter Stegen produced another good save to deny Budimir, before Mallorca keeper Manolo Reina did well to save from Braithwaite and Araujo hit the post at the other end.
Alba scored Barca’s third of the night in the 79th minute after beating the Mallorca offside trap to slide the ball past Reina at the keeper’s near post, and Messi finished the scoring after taking a pass from Luis Suarez, who returned to action after his knee operation in January.
Earlier in the day, Wu Lei was on target as bottom side Espanyol won 2-0 at home to Alaves, who had to play for over 70 minutes with ten men after goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco was sent off for handling outside of his area.
Substitute Roberto Jimenez produced a series of impressive saves, but could do nothing to stop Bernardo opening the scoring in first-half injury-time, and Wu’s calm finish at the start of the second half ensured three vital points for Espanyol.
Manu Triguero’s injury-time winner gave Villarreal a 1-0 win away to Celta Vigo, who remain deep in relegation trouble, while Enes Unal and Ruben Alcaraz gave Real Valladolid a vital three points away to Leganes, who netted a late consolation goal through Oscar Rodriguez’s penalty.
Friday saw Granada come back from a goal down to beat Getafe 2-1, while Valencia and Levante drew 1-1 in the Valencia city derby.