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La Liga Matchday 10 – Guess which Real Madrid star is back with a bang?

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to form in style for Real Madrid as he scored a hat-trick against Alaves having previously only scored two goals in six La Liga games as criticisms grew of his performances with question marks over whether he could maintain his usual high standards into this season. Alaves took the lead early on through Deyverson before conceding a controversial penalty for handball, which allowed Cristiano to draw the scores level and then put his side ahead before half time. The Portuguese Ballon D’Or contender then missed a penalty before sealing his hat-trick in the 88th minute to make it 4-1 after Alvaro Morata scored for the fourth consecutive game for the first time in his career.

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In stark contrast was the performance of Lionel Messi, which many labelled as one of the worst they have seen from him in years, with Luis Suarez also criticised as Barcelona struggled to a 1-0 victory over Granada, who are stranded at the bottom of the league without a win this campaign. Rafinha’s acrobatic effort was enough to stab home after a goalmouth scramble to put the Catalans ahead just after the break, but Barcelona were far from convincing as Lucas Alcaraz’s team defended in numbers with a clear tactic of damage limitation, though it clearly worked and number the famous MSN attack, even if they were far from their best.

Atletico Madrid, though, were in much better form as Malaga made their final visit to the Vicente Calderon. Both sides saw red but braces from Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Kevin Gameiro, both of whom opened their accounts for the day early on, ensured that strikes from former Barcelona forward Sandro Ramirez and Premier League target Ignacio Camacho were nothing more than consolation strikes for the south coast side, who came into the tie having beaten Leganes 4-0 last weekend as Juande Ramos’ team move up the table.

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Sitting in second place going into the weekend, Sevilla could not afford to slip up as they traveled to face Sporting Gijon, and it seemed that they would be safe when Luciano Vietto opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Only 16 minutes later, Moi Gomez drew the scores back level but the real blow came at half time as the hugely influential Samir Nasri was withdrawn with a muscle injury which will see him miss out on the Champions League clash with Dinamo Zagreb in midweek and makes him a doubt for the vital clash with Barcelona.

A slightly more entertaining draw took place on the Canary Islands as Las Palmas battled back from being 3-0 down at half time to draw 3-3, with Sergi Gomez’s sending off and conceding of a penalty not helping the Celta Vigo cause. Former Liverpool man Iago Aspas had scored a brace to put Celta three in front within the first 20 minutes despite Las Palmas dominating possession, but the side in yellow took the most of their chances in the second half to come back and earn a valuable point.

Another team in yellow were on the other end of an impressive comeback on Sunday as SD Eibar came back from 1-0 down to defeat Villarreal and ruin t heir unbeaten start to the season. Two strikes in the last ten minutes, from Ivan Ramis and Pedro Leon, saw Eibar steal the points and cost Villarreal the chance to overtake Sevilla and Atletico Madrid to move into the top four, with Eibar themselves only one point off of the Europa League spots with ten games played.

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A powerful second half header from Diego Reyes meant that Espanyol could pick up only their second win of the campaign as Quique Sanchez Flores’ team took their unbeaten streak to four games at the expense of former Sunderland and Brighton manager Gus Poyet, who is coming under increasing pressure at the Estadio Benito Villamartin. The Real Betis squad have spoken to the press to back their boss but fans are not impressed with their uninspiring start to the season and even more frustrated as former Arsenal and Sevilla player Jose Antonio Reyes made it seven games without a defeat at Betis’ home ground in his career, which was mostly spent at their city rivals.

Another side in desperate need of points are Osasuna, who secured an impressive draw against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames having taken an early lead through Oriol Riera, only for some poor goalkeeping to allow Raul Garcia to draw things back level before the half hour mark. Sitting firmly in the relegation zone, the Pamplona side were frustrated to see Sporting pick up a point to retain their lead over them in the race to get out of the bottom three.

Deportivo protected their lead though and remain level on points with Sporting Gijon and only clear of the relegation zone on goal difference after securing a draw with a rejuvenated Valencia, who saw Rodrigo Moreno cancel out Emre Colak’s strike on the stroke of half time. That means that Valencia have now only suffered defeats to Barcelona and Atletico Madrid since sacking Pako Ayestaran and have won three and drawn one of the four other fixtures since then, with Cesare Prandelli making an immediate impact.

Another side quietly surging up the table is Real Sociedad who were in Friday night action to make it five top flight games at home without a win for newly promoted Leganes. Their only two wins to date have come on the road at Granada and Deportivo, but Willian Jose and Xabi Prieto showed no mercy as they romped to a 2-0 victory which would see them move ahead of rivals Athletic Bilbao and into the top six for the first time this season.

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