La Liga round-up: Real Madrid late show salvages win, Barcelona toast super eight

Barca were without World Player of the Year Lionel Messi due to a thigh injury, but his absence wasn't noticed thanks to another fantastic performance by Neymar.

Updated: October 06, 2013 11:43 IST
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Madrid: Barcelona continued their storming start to La Liga as they came from behind to beat Valladolid 4-1 and register an eighth win in eight games.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, remain five points behind but needed two injury time goals from Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo to win 3-2 away to Levante.

Barca were without World Player of the Year Lionel Messi due to a thigh injury, but his absence wasn't noticed thanks to another fantastic performance by Neymar.

Javi Guerra had headed Valladolid into a shock 10th minute lead, but Alexis Sanchez responded with a stunning strike just four minutes later to level.

Neymar then took over as he fed Cristian Tello, who in turn cut the ball back for Xavi to make it 2-1 just after the break.

The Brazilian was involved again in the third goal as he released Sanchez to slot home his second of the evening 25 minutes from time.

Sanchez returned the favour six minutes later to allow Neymar to register his third Barcelona goal.

And the Chilean refuted suggestions that it is easier for he and Neymar to express themselves without Messi.

"Neymar plays like Neymar, everyone has their own style of play," Sanchez told Gol TV.

"Messi is distinct. They are two different players. I don't think you can say we have more freedom when Messi isn't playing. When he isn't there we have more work to do because playing with Messi is easy."

Real also had to come from behind, but were made to work far harder for the three points as they salvaged their faltering La Liga title hopes with two late goals at the Ciutat de Valencia.

With Carlo Ancelotti's men trailing 2-1 entering stoppage time, Morata slotted home from close range before Ronaldo's effort deflected in off the inside of the post with virtually the last kick of the game to hand Madrid victory.

Baba Diawara had fired the hosts into a deserved lead 12 minutes after the break, only for Sergio Ramos to level four minutes later.

Nabil El Zhar then thought he had handed Joaquin Caparros' men all three points with a fine finish four minutes from time before the late drama.

"The victory was very important because it was a very difficult game," said Ancelotti.

"It was even more difficult at the end, but we didn't give up and we had the will to fight till the end.

"The game was complicated by us giving away two goals when we needed better concentration and more cover.

"It is true that we didn't play fantastic football, but we deserved to win given the chances we had in the second-half."

Real were again without world record signing Gareth Bale due to a thigh injury, but Ancelotti did make five changes to the side that had beaten FC Copenhagen 4-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

And the number of changes seemed to affect the visitors as they failed to register any effort of note on Keylor Navas' goal throughout the first-half.

Ronaldo then clipped the outside of the post as the game opened up after the break.

And with their next attack Levante caught Madrid short at the back on the counter-attack as Jordi Xumetra's floated cross was swept home by Baba at the back post.

The lead only lasted four minutes as Ramos outmuscled Xumetra to bundle home Angel di Maria's corner at the back post to restore parity.

Marcelo then somehow turned Di Maria's precise cut-back over as Madrid piled on the pressure and Ancelotti threw on young strike duo Morata and Jese Rodriguez in a bid to find a winner.

But instead it was Levante who retook the lead on 86 minutes remaining when El Zhar withheld pressure from a number of Madrid defenders to turn and fire across Lopez into the far corner.

Madrid responded moments later with another equaliser when Jese teed-up Morata to slot low past the helpless Navas.

And the comeback was complete deep into added time when Ronaldo received Modric's pass at the edge of the area and saw his left-footed strike deflect off Juanfran and into the net via the woodwork.

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