Mon, Oct 07, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Barca toast super eight, Real bounce back to scrape win

AFP, MADRID

Barcelona continued their storming start to the season as they came from behind to beat Valladolid 4-1 and register an eighth win in eight games in La Liga.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid remain five points behind, but needed two injury-time goals from Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo to win 3-2 away to Levante.

Barca were without Lionel Messi due to injury, but his absence was not noticed thanks to another great Neymar performance.

Javi Guerra had headed Valladolid into a shock 10th minute lead, but Alexis Sanchez responded with a stunning strike just four minutes later to level.

Neymar then took over as he fed Cristian Tello who in turn cut the ball back for Xavi to make it 2-1 just after the break.

The Brazilian was involved again in their third goal as he released Sanchez to score his second of the game 25 minutes from time. Sanchez returned the favor six minutes later to allow Neymar to finish.

The Chilean refuted suggestions that it is easier for him and Neymar to express themselves without Messi.

“Neymar plays like Neymar, everyone has their own style of play,” Sanchez told Gol TV. “Messi is distinct. They are two different players. I don’t think you can say we have more freedom when Messi isn’t playing. When he isn’t there we have more work to do because playing with Messi is easy.”

Real also had to come from behind, but were made to work far harder for their three points.

With Carlo Ancelotti’s men trailing 2-1 entering stoppage time, Morata scored from close range before Ronaldo’s effort deflected in off the inside of the post with virtually the last kick of the game.

Baba Diawara had fired the hosts into a deserved lead 12 minutes after the break, only for Sergio Ramos to level four minutes later. Nabil El Zhar then thought he had handed Joaquin Caparros’ men all three points with a fine finish four minutes from time before the late drama.

Real failed to register any effort of note on Keylor Navas’ goal throughout the first-half. Ronaldo then clipped the outside of the post as the game opened up after the break. Levante then caught Madrid with a counterattack as Jordi Xumetra’s floated cross was swept home by Baba.

The lead only lasted four minutes as Ramos bundled home Angel di Maria’s corner at the back post. Marcelo then somehow turned Di Maria’s precise cut-back over as Madrid piled on the pressure and Ancelotti threw on Morata and Jese Rodriguez.

Instead it was Levante who retook the lead on 86 minutes when El Zhar turned and fired across Lopez into the far corner.

Madrid responded moments later with another equalizer when Jese teed-up Morata to score.

The comeback was completed deep into added time when Ronaldo received Modric’s pass at the edge of the area and saw his strike deflect off Juanfran and into the net via the woodwork.

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