Man, talk about living by the seat of your pants.
Once again Barcelona needed to pull off some late-match heroics to register a La Liga win in Spain this weekend.
Barca overcame a two-goal deficit in the second half en route to a 3-2 victory at Sevilla, the Spanish powerhouse's sixth league win in as many games on Saturday. In fact, Barcelona has equaled its best start to a season, which has been accomplished four times and most recently in 2009-2010.
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who sparked the comeback with a brace, put the match into proper perspective.
"We felt comfortable at all times," Fabregas told www.fcbarcelona.com. "We dominated the match, but sometimes it can get complicated and we have to show our character - and that's what we did."
Piotr Trochowski and Alvaro Negredo gave the hosts a 2-0 lead before the sleeping giants stirred and went into gear. Fabregas cut the lead in half with a 53rd-minute goal and equalized thanks to a pass from Argentine great Lionel Messi in the 89th minute.
Second-half substitute and Spanish international David Villa, who recently returned from a broken leg, scored the dramatic game-winner in stoppage time.
"I'm happy that I was able to help the team in the little time I had," said Villa, who replaced Dani Alves in the 79th minute. "Sevilla fought hard and they played well. Thank God that I was able to finish off a good collective play. We're taking the three points.”
It certainly did not hurt Barcelona that it scored the final two goals after Gary Medel was red-carded in the 72nd minute.
Barcelona certainly cannot keep living on the edge, especially in its next game when it hosts archrival Real Madrid at Camp Nou Stadium on Sunday.
Angel Di Maria
Real Madrid continued its solid form after a sluggish start to the season, winning consecutive matches for the first time this season with a 5-1 thumping of Deportivo La Coruna at home. Ronaldo finished with a hat-trick -the 17th in his career- sandwiching penalty kicks (23rd and 83rd minutes) around one from the run of play in the 44th minute. Di Maria, an Argentinean, found the back of the net to give Real a 2-1 lead it did not relinquish in the 38th minute.
The Mexican international converted a penalty kick to give Real Sociedad some breathing room in its 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. Antoine Griezmann lifted the hosts into the lead in the 62nd minute.
The Argentine veteran proved that he still has it, scoring Malaga's second goal in its 4-0 win over Real Betis in the 28th minute.
There is something about Carrow Road that brings out the best in Suárez -in triplicate. For the second consecutive season, the Uruguayan striker recorded a hat-trick, this time in a 5-2 triumph over Norwich City. Suárez was at the top of his game from the opening whistle, giving the visitors the lead on a clinical finish in the second minute. He found the back of the net in the 38th minute, when he launched a curling shot past goalkeeper John Ruddy. Two minutes into the second half, Suárez turned playmaker, setting up Nuri Sahin's first English Premier League goal before completing his scintillating afternoon with yet another curling shot.
Fernando Torres, Juan Mata
The Spanish combination gave English Premier League leader, Chelsea, all the scoring it needed in a 2-1 win over Arsenal, which was handed its first defeat of the season. A pair of Mata free kicks set up the goals. Torres volleyed home a Mata kick in the 20th minute. After Gervinho equalized for the Gunners in the 42nd minute, Mata powered a free kick past goalkeeper Vito Mannone in the 53rd minute.
Whatever magic Chicharito had scoring goals for Manchester United has all but disappeared. The Mexican international found himself back on the bench with the return of striker Wayne Rooney from injury in the 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham. Hernández came on for defender Rio Ferdinand in the 90th minute in an attempt to salvage a point, but it was too little and too late. That's too bad for such a talent as Chicharito.
Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez
The Argentine standout started Manchester City's comeback in its 2-1 victory at Fulham. Aguero, who suffered a knee injury in City's season-opener at Southampton in August, tapped in a rebound of Tevez's shot by goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the 43rd minute. Edin Dzeko tallied the game-winner in the 87th minute.
After a hat-trick in a win over Lazio on Wednesday, Cavani capped off a memorable week by scoring the lone goal of Napli's 1-0 triumph at 10-man Sampdoria, which had its unbeaten streak snapped in Serie A. The Uruguayan, who missed a penalty kick vs. Lazio, converted a penalty in the 67th minute, which gave him a league-leading six goals. The penalty was awarded after Daniele Guastaldello was slapped with his second yellow card for tripping Marek Hamsik at the edge of the penalty area, although replays showed that the foul might have happened outside the box.
Arturo Vidal, Pablo Osvaldo
Vidal, a Chilean, scored one goal and set up another to help Juventus to a 4-1 romp over AS Roma. Vidal put home a penalty kick to double Juve's lead in the 15th minute before his through ball to Alessandro Matri, who made it a three-goal advantage in the 18th minute. Osvaldo, an Argentinean, converted a penalty kick in the 65th minute for Roma.
Diego Milito, David Pizarro
Milito, an Argentine, scored one goal and almost had another in Inter Milan's 2-1 home triumph over 10-man Fiorentina. He converted a penalty kick in the 17th minute to lift Inter into a 1-0 lead. Milito almost had another two minutes later when his volley hit the underside of the crossbar. He also was denied twice by goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano. Pizarro, a Chilean, set up Fiorentina's lone goal in the 40th minute as Romulo headed in his cross.
Argentinean Pastore set up the first goal of Paris St. Germain's 2-0 victory over Sochaux, a result that lifted PSG into second place in Ligue 1. Pastore chipped a pass to Kevin Gameiro, who scored the first of his two goals in the 11th minute.
The Mexican international goalkeeper enjoyed a relatively easy day as AC Ajaccio recorded a 1-0 win over Brest. Ochoa was called on to make only one save as the Ajaccio held fast through the entire 90 minutes. Mehdi Mostefa put in the lone goal of the match in the 56th minute and Ajaccio made sure the lead stood up.
The Costa Rican scored in his debut for Mainz in a 2-0 victory at Wolfsburg. Diaz scored in the 27th minute, heading in a cross by Emanuel Pogatetz past goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, who was caught off his line.
One strange game from South America, as Racing Club used a pair of own goals and a goal from its goalkeeper to defeat San Lorenzo, 4-0, to boost the side into second place. Saja converted a penalty kick against his former team to give Racing a 1-0 lead. Santiago Gentiletti (50th minute) and Gonzalo Prosperi (78th minute) had San Lorenzo's own goals. San Lorenzo also had two players red carded.
Alvaro Saborio, Fabián Espindola
Saborio, a Costa Rican striker, struck for a hat-trick in Real Salt Lake’s 4-0 win over host Chivas USA in Major League Soccer action. Espindola, an Argentine, set up the first two goals, a pair of relatively easy scores, in the eighth and 12th minute. Saborio completed his hat-trick in the 65th minute.
Yet another Costa Rican rose to the occasion: Arrieta connected for the first two goals of the Columbus Crew's 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union. Arrieta gave the hosts the lead in the 44th minute. Sebastian Miranda played a ball from the left flank to Arrieta, who slipped behind defender Amobi Okugo, finished with a left-footed shot into the bottom left corner. Five minutes into first-half stoppage time, Arrieta got on the end of a long ball from goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, cut around Okugo and scored for a 2-0 lead.
Blas Pérez, Hernán Pertuz, David Ferreria
Pérez, a Panamanian international striker, scored a goal in each half to help FC Dallas to a 3-3 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes. Perez scored two straight goals, equalizing in the 23rd minute and boosting the hosts into a 3-2 lead in the 72nd minute as Colombians Pertuz and Ferreria had roles in the creation.
Oscar Boniek García
The Honduran international gave the Houston Dynamo some breathing room as he tallied an insurance goal in a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution. García scored off a volley from Warren Creavalle’s cross in the three minutes into stoppage time.
Michael Lewis, who has covered international soccer for more than three decades, can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com.
Michael Lewis, who has written about soccer for four decades, is the only journalist who has covered every MLS Cup. He is in Columbus to cover Sunday’s game, and can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com or via Twitter at @soccerwriter.
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