Barca romp as Abidal returns

A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division as Eric Abidal returned in a Barcelona win.

Last Updated: 07/04/13 at 22:50 Post Comment

Eric Abidal makes an emotional return at the Nou Camp

Eric Abidal makes an emotional return at the Nou Camp

Cesc Fabregas scored the first hat-trick of his career as Barcelona moved closer to the Primera Division title on an emotional Saturday night at the Nou Camp that witnessed the return of Eric Abidal after a year out following liver surgery.

Fabregas commanded the spotlight in the injury-enforced absence of Lionel Messi, scoring three and setting up two for Alexis Sanchez as Barca romped to a 5-0 victory over Real Mallorca who have now gone bottom of the table.

They were also inspired by Tito Vilanova, who was on the Nou Camp touchline for the first time since January after undergoing treatment for cancer.

However, it was Abidal's appearance that brought the Catalans to their feet with the Frenchman given a standing ovation when he replaced Gerard Pique in the 70th minute.

A much-changed Real Madrid recovered from another slow start to secure a regulation 5-1 home win over European hopefuls Levante.

Jose Mourinho made seven changes from the team that beat Galatasaray 3-0 to take control of their Champions League quarter-final in midweek.

But with star names Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria initially watching on from the bench they fell behind - for the third successive Primera Division match - to Michel's 31st-minute strike.

The response was swift, however, as Gonzalo Higuain hooked in before a Kaka penalty sent Madrid ahead within eight minutes of falling behind.

Ronaldo was inserted at the break and killed the game off on 84 minutes before Ozil added two more to lift Madrid four points clear of third-placed city rivals Atletico.

On Sunday, Espanyol took a giant step towards securing their future in the top flight for another season after beating Osasuna 2-0 at the Reyno de Navarra.

Hector Moreno gave the Catalans the lead early in the second half and Mubarak Wakaso made sure of all three points in stoppage time.

The result takes Javier Aguirre's side 13 points clear of the relegation zone but Osasuna, who are five points above the bottom three, still have some work to do.

Valencia bolstered their bid to secure Champions League football next season as Jonas nodded in a last-gasp winner to break the hearts of 10-man Real Valladolid 2-1.

Los Che looked to have blown their chance to claim all the points after failing to build on the lead gifted to them by Mikel Balenziaga's first-half own-goal.

Henrique Sereno was handed a second yellow card for the foul that saw Valencia awarded a penalty in the 57th minute, but Roberto Soldado was unable to capitalise as his spot-kick was saved by the impressive Dani Hernandez.

The 10 men of Valladolid looked to have secured an unlikely point after Oscar Gonzalez lashed home a fine effort in the 71st minute, but with just 10 seconds left in added time Jonas rose to nod in Jonathan Viera's pinpoint cross.

The victory sees Valencia stay within two points of Real Sociedad in the race for the fourth and final Champions League berth.

Atletico Madrid clung on for a goalless draw at mid-table Getafe despite ending a tetchy contest with nine men.

Both Mario Suarez and Diego Godin were dismissed for the third-placed visitors who now trail city rivals Real Madrid by three points in the Primera Division.

Atletico had the better of what few chances were created but star striker Radamel Falcao had a rare off night.

Rayo Vallecano picked up their first away win in just under three months after a 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo.

A smart finish by captain Piti gave the Madrid side the lead early in the first half and substitute Andrija Delibasic made sure of the points late on.

Back to Saturday's action and Real Sociedad opened up a four-point lead on their rivals for fourth place inwith a resounding 4-2 win at home to Malaga.

The hosts took a commanding lead in the first half thanks to a frenetic nine minutes in which they found the net three times, through Carlos Vela, Alberto de la Bella and Antoine Griezmann.

Pedro Morales pulled one back for Malaga before the break, but any hope of a comeback was then vanquished by a goal by Inigo Martinez shortly after the re-start.

Roque Santa Cruz scored a second consolation goal with 20 minutes remaining, but a home victory was never in doubt.

Deportivo La Coruna gave their hopes of avoiding relegation a timely boost by beating fellow strugglers Real Zaragoza 3-2 in a thriller at the Riazor.

Bruno Gama put the Galicians ahead early in the first half but Helder Postiga levelled from the penalty spot and then Paco Montanes put Manolo Jimenez's visitors ahead.

However, Carlos Marchena equalised before half-time and Depor took the lead for a second time 10 minutes into the second half thanks to an own goal by Abraham Minero, whose night was made even worse when he was sent off with nine minutes remaining.

Depor have now won three consecutive games and moved off the bottom of the table for the first time since December 2.

On Friday night, Real Betis had moved level on points with fifth-placed Malaga after sweeping aside hapless Granada 5-1 courtesy of a first-half blitz at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.

The Andalusian derby was as good as settled during a four-minute spell just after the half-hour when Betis scored three times, Ruben Castro netting the first two before Granada defender Inigo Lopez put through his own net.

Betis added a fourth goal through Dorlan Pabon at the start of the second half before Granada trimmed the deficit with a Carlos Aranda header with 18 minutes to go.

Relegation-threatened Granada could not make anymore inroads though and they were reduced to 10 men when Guilherme Siqueira was shown a second yellow card for diving, and Betis wrapped up the scoring five minutes from time with a breakaway Angel Lopez goal.


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e have the personnel. The trick is keeping them fit. Carrick and Blind have missed large chunks of the season, while the defence has been one muddled mess of intermittent stooges, all coming and going at various intervals thus far. We may be just short of title winning quality, but we're half way through. An injury crisis to either of the top two could change things. Optimistic, yes, but not unrealistic.

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arish is the man to blame for this shambles. Pulis must be chuckling into his left over turkey sandwich. I pray this doesn't mean the Neil Warnock media machine will kick in now and he'll be back on the telly box.

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e almost found a new way to lose, just when I thought it was getting boring Giroud does that. Although Arsenal are deservedly called 'soft' the entire midfield is out injured. Still must admit MU are managing to win despite a similar raft of absentees. Think the Gunners have good players but poorly coached.

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