With an abundance of attacking skill and a surfeit of frustration at scoring just one goal in its first two games (and that a penalty), Barcelona finally
unleashed its real self on Sunday by thrashing Sporting Gijon, 6-1. And the Catalans were the road team.
The lineup of goalscorers alone is testimony to the team's strength in
offense. Xavi, Samuel Eto'o
, Seydou Keita
, Andres Iniesta
and two late strikes
from Lionel Messi
did not unfairly reflect the away team's overwhelming dominance of Gijon, who could only muster a Francisco Maldonado
goal in response. Gijon has now shipped 12 goals in three games.
Valencia tops La Liga after a late goal from former Real Madrid striker Juan Mata
gave it a 1-0 home win over Osasuna. Real moved up into sixth spot, one point off the leaders, with a 2-0 road win at Racing Santander on goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy
and the splendidly named Ruben de la Red.
Almeria is among the surprise early
pace-setters, wedged into second place after beating Malaga 1-0 on a winner from Alvaro Negredo
, another Real reject. It was also a good weekend for
ex-Liverpool forward Florent Sinama-Pongolle
, who scored twice as Atletico Madrid dealt Recreativo Huelva a 4-0 pasting.
Pity poor bottom-placed
Gijon -- it visits Real in the midweek round of games being played Wednesday and Thursday. Barcelona entertains Real Betis, and Valencia travels to Malaga.