MADRID: Spain’s top three shared 17 goals between them in a lively latest LaLiga matchday which was perfect preparation for their Champions League returns.
Atletico Madrid maintained top spot in LaLiga after hammering Granada 7-1 at the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Saturday.
They lead city rivals Real Madrid, who ended a run of four successive drawrs by beating Real Betis 6-1 in Seville, on goal difference, while Barcelona sit two points further back after they were 4-0 winners at home to Deportivo La Coruna.
It started badly for Diego Simeone’s Atletico side as Isaac Cuenca gave rock-bottom Granada a shock lead with a smart 18th-minute volley but the hosts charged back thanks to a Yannick Carrasco hat-trick.
Substitute Nico Gaitan hooked home a fourth with his first touch after replacing Kevin Gameiro and drilled in a second with nine minutes to go. There was still time for Angel Correa and Tiago to get on the scoresheet as Atletico ripped their opponents apart in the second half.
Real Madrid tore through Betis with a great counter-attacking display. Isco, who barely featured in the opening weeks of the season under Zinedine Zidane, scored their fourth and fifth goals, the first a tap-in after an end-to-end break and the second a sublime curler.
Raphael Varane put them in front in the fourth minute, Karim Benzema (32) added a second and Marcelo scuffed in the third from an offside position six minutes before the break.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who still looks way short of top form, scored just his second LaLiga goal of the season with 12 minutes left to complete the scoring, with Alvaro Cejudo getting Betis’ only goal.
Earlier Lionel Messi had marked his return to the Barcelona team with the final goal in their comprehensive victory over Depor.
Rafinha’s brace set them on the right path and Luis Suarez’s sixth LaLiga goal of the season just before the break left the Galicians with only pride to play for in the second half.
Messi’s introduction in the 55th minute was well received and he justified the enthusiasm by rifling in a Neymar pass from an acute angle.
Pablo Sarabia was Sevilla’s match-winner as they defeated Leganes 3-2 in the first match of the day.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side appeared to be in cruise control with goals either side of half-time from Franco Vazquez and Samir Nasri, but the promoted side from the Madrid suburbs fought back.
David Timor made it 2-1 in the 67th minute and Alexander Szymanowski equalised two minutes later, but substitute Sarabia snatched Sevilla’s fifth win in eight games with five minutes to go to leave them third.
Las Palmas wasted the chance to move up to third in the LaLiga table following a goalless draw with Espanyol.
The hosts were guilty of missing several chances, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jonathan Viera particularly wasteful, as they drew for the third consecutive game.
Espanyol, with only one league win to their name this season, failed to break their duck at the Estadio Gran Canaria and have not scored at that venue in four matches.