MADRID – Valencia kept the pressure on Liga leaders Barcelona by beating Celta Vigo 2-1 on Saturday with a late penalty from Dani Parejo and Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice for the first time in a league game this season as Real Madrid thrashed Sevilla 5-0.
Valencia were looking for a first win in three games to revive their unlikely title bid and took the lead through a header from top scorer Simone Zaza in the 28th minute, the Italian’s 10th league goal of the season.
Iago Aspas stabbed in from close range in the 46th minute to equalize for Celta, who had held Barca to a 2-2 draw last weekend, but Parejo restored Valencia’s lead nine minutes from time with a double stroke of fortune as his disputed penalty went through the hands of goalkeeper Ruben Blanco.
Valencia are second in the standings, moving two points behind Barcelona who have 36 and visit Villarreal on Sunday. Real go third on 31 but Atletico Madrid can go back above Zinedine Zidane’s side when they visit Real Betis on Sunday.
Celta’s players raged against referee Jose Luis Munuera Montero for awarding Valencia the penalty when Jose Gaya went to ground following a challenge by Pablo Hernandez.
“We didn’t drop points today, we had them taken off us by that person (the referee). He robbed us. I hope he doesn’t officiate any more of our games,” said Celta captain Hugo Mallo.
Goalscorer Aspas added: “I think he must have something against Celta, in every game of ours which he has taken charge of, something has gone against us.”
Valencia coach Marcelino, who was back in the dugout following a two-game touchline ban, said: “It was a really exciting game. The result is fair because we scored two legal goals but Celta played very well and if they’d drawn we wouldn’t have been able to complain.”
In Madrid, Real overcame a selection crisis in defence to crush Sevilla with a lethal attacking display, scoring all their goals before halftime.
Real were without Raphael Varane, captain Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and holding midfielder Casemiro but got off to an ideal start when Nacho Fernandez cashed in on a woeful attempted clearance following a corner to score in the third minute.
Ronaldo, who had paraded his joint-record five Ballon d‘Or trophies on the Santiago Bernabeu pitch before kick-off, side-footed home a through ball from Marco Asensio to score the second before thumping in the third from the penalty spot.
Toni Kroos scored the most impressive goal of the game by charging forward from his own half and playing a wall pass with Lucas Vazquez before stroking the ball beyond Rico, while 18-year-old Achraf Hakimi notched his first goal for Real to complete another lethal breakaway.
Real coach Zidane was delighted with his side’s performance, especially after last week’s goalless draw at Athletic Bilbao.
“It has been a great day for us, above all because we won and scored a lot and we hadn’t done that much so far this season. It was a complete game for us and that means a lot to me,” the Frenchman told a news conference.
“We’re growing in every sense and playing better. When you play better you create more chances, we created a lot today and scored five times, for the first time this season (in the league).”