Real Madrid go top of LaLiga as Barça sputter

Sports Desk, Oct 30 (EFE).- Real Madrid took back first place in LaLiga with a 2-1 away win Saturday over Elche, while Barcelona showed no sign of improvement under their new coach, managing only a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou against lowly Elche.

Vinicius Jr. accounted for both of the Blancos’ goals in the contest with 15th-place Elche. The brace boosted the young Brazilian’s goal total for the season to nine, all but two of them in LaLiga.

Though Lucas Boye and Lucas Perez tested Thibaut Courtois, Pere Milla’s consolation goal for Elche in the 86th minute was the result of a defensive error by Casemiro.

The hosts played the final third of the match with 10 men after Raul Guti picked up a second yellow card.

The result lifted Real Madrid to 24 points, the same as Sevilla and Real Sociedad, but the Blancos are first on better goal difference pending the outcome of Sunday’s Basque derby between Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao.

In Barcelona, any hopes that the midweek firing of coach Ronald Koeman would deliver a quick improvement were dashed.

With B squad boss Sergi Barjuan in a caretaker role while management explores the possibility of luring former Blaugrana captain Xavi Hernandez from his job managing Qatari club Al Sadd, Saturday’s display did not reassure anyone.

The hosts had 80 percent possession and outshot Alaves 16-3, yet they could not translate their dominance into goals.

Memphis Depay opened the scoring with a tremendous goal in the 49th minute, but Luis Rioja answered for Alaves just three minutes later.

Depay went on to hit the post and force a good save from the visiting goalkeeper and Alaves held on to take the point.

Barcelona are ninth on 16 points and even a top-four finish may be too ambitious a target.

Defending champions Atletico Madrid sit in sixth place, but can snatch fourth away from Real Betis with a win Sunday at the Wanda Metropolitano. EFE


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