Today in Spanish Football, visiting Barcelona FC beat hosts Espanyol of Barcelona 1-0 on a controversial penalty scored by Lionel Messi. Also today, visiting Atletico Madrid beat hosts Athletic Bilbao 2-1 with goals from Diego Costa and Koke. Rounding out the top three spots in La Liga hosts Real Madrid beat visiting Rayo Vallecano 5-0 with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel Carvajal, Alvaro Morata, and a Gareth Bale brace.
The Atletico win was a hard fought match that saw the visitors earn a difficult three points away and keep their impressive run at the La Liga title. Bilbao opened the scoring at the five minute mark and it took Madrid until the 22nd minute to tie the match with a well taken Costa left-footed shot to the lower right of goal. The winning goal, Koke's header off a ricochet came at the 54th but the game was exciting until the end as Bilbao played well.
The Bareclona win was also a challenging match with some very tough tackling and quite a number of fouls, called and uncalled. The penalty, late in the second half, was a strange call in itself and a tough way to determine what had been, mostly, an even match. Albeit a prior penalty on Dani Alves went uncalled and Barca also hit the woodwork. But the game's winning play seems to have been set up by a Neymar hand ball that propels the ball into the hand of Espanyol's defender.
Real had the only easy win. The Madrid side was smarting after back to back losses and needed to get their mojo back. So of course Angel di Maria was back but so was the erring Karim Benzema who missed three clear goal scoring chances in the first half alone. But Cristiano scored early, Morata and Bale each scored a golazo, Carvajal got his first goal in first division play, and Bale padded his resume with a tap in.
Ronaldo (28), Costa (25) and Messi (23), kept pace with their respective clubs' exploits by also leading the scorers' table for another week, if not in the same order as their teams. With Sunday's games still on the menu the table has Atletico on top at 76 points, Barcelona second at 75, and Real third at 73, with the first and second place teams having the head-to-head goal differential tie-breaker advantage over Real.
Next week Barca hosts Real Betis, Real visits Real Sociedad, and Atletico host Villareal.