Monday 18 December 2017

Super-sub Villa saves Barca as Ronaldo hits a hat-trick

Euro round-up

Jamie Holland

Barcelona striker David Villa, gradually coming back to full fitness after eight months out with a broken leg, showed he has retained his keen eye for goal when he came off the bench to snatch the winner in the 3-2 comeback victory at Sevilla.

With Barca in danger of dropping their first points of the campaign, the 30-year-old drove into the penalty area deep into added-time and crashed a left-foot shot high past Andres Palop to complete a stirring fightback from two goals down.

The victory, in which Cesc Fabregas netted a double, extended the La Liga leaders' perfect record and equalled their best start to a domestic season of six straight wins ahead of the clash with arch-rivals Real Madrid at the Nou Camp next weekend.

Barca coach Tito Vilanova has used Villa sparingly since his return but may increasingly opt for the former Valencia man ahead of Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, who is yet to find his best form this season.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to power Real Madrid to a 5-1 home win over Deportivo La Coruna as the defending champions strung together back-to-back league victories for the first time this season.

Madrid will enter the 'Clasico' eight points behind leader Barcelona, but at least Jose Mourinho's players are showing strong signs of recovering their best form.

Deportivo went ahead through Ivan 'Riki' Sanchez-Rico after 16 minutes, but Ronaldo equalised from the penalty spot in the 23rd and netted again just before half-time after Angel Di Maria had extended Real's lead.

Pepe added a headed goal in the 66th and then Ronaldo completed his hat-trick from the peanlty spot in the 83rd minute.

In Italy, Juventus scored three goals in the opening 19 minutes to destroy AS Roma 4-1 and move three points clear in Serie A.

AC Milan's poor start to the season continued as they produced a patchy performance in a 1-1 draw at Parma -- a result that increased the pressure on coach Massimiliano Allegri. Juve are now nine points ahead of Milan.

Irish Independent

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