Sunday 25 September 2016

Aspas bags brace as Celta crush Barcelona

Published 24/09/2015 | 02:30

Rafa Benitez praised his Real Madrid side's 'character' as they overcame a difficult second half to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1
Rafa Benitez praised his Real Madrid side's 'character' as they overcame a difficult second half to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1

Former Liverpool striker Iago Aspas scored twice as Celta Vigo sent Barcelona crashing to a 4-1 defeat to allow Real Madrid leap-frog them at the top of La Liga.

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After disappointing spells at Anfield and Sevilla, Aspas is back to his best this season having returned to Celta and struck clinical finishes in either half against a Barca side who were far from their dominant selves.

Nolito, a former Barca youth player, fired his fifth goal in as many games to put Celta ahead after 25 minutes with a curling drive from the left of the area.

Aspas then chipped the ball over keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen for the second minutes later.

It was clear that it was not going to be Barca's day when Lionel Messi struck the woodwork after 52 minutes with only keeper Sergio Alvarez to beat and then Aspas raced clear and slotted home on 55 minutes.

Neymar scored from a tight angle after 80 minutes but Celta substitute John Guidetti - who was on loan at Celtic from Manchester City last season - volleyed in their fourth minutes later.

Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez praised his side's "character" as they overcame a difficult second half to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring in a dominant first-half performance from the visitors but the Basques reasserted themselves after the break and drew level through Sabin Merino's diving header, only for Benzema to score again three minutes later.

"The great Real Madrid teams always had that element of character and a fighting spirit, as well as playing spectacular football," said Benitez.

Elsewhere, Celtic began their defence of the Scottish League Cup with an insipid 2-0 third-round win over Raith Rovers at Parkhead.

Irish Independent

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