Higuain hat-trick lifts Real Madrid back to top of La Liga; Messi hat-trick leads Barca past Valencia; Villarreal, Almeria & Tenerife win at home

Valladolid 1 – Real Madrid 4 (La Liga, March 14, 2010) Cristiano Ronaldo cracked home a trademark tomahawk free-kick after 27 minutes at Valladolid. Real doubled their lead just before the interval when Gonzalo Higuain volleyed home a Van der Vaart inswinging free-kick from 3-yards out. Los Blancos went 3-up in the 52nd minute when Alonso’s straight-forward free-kick upfield was flicked on by Ronaldo to Higuain and the Argentine confidently notched his second of the game. The hosts briefly got themselves back in the game when Raul Albiol managed to turn the ball into his own net, Gonzalo Higuain soon restored Real’s 3-goal cushion with his hat-trick goal mopping up a parried shot from Ronaldo.

Barcelona 3 – Valencia 0 (La Liga, March 14, 2010) After 56 minutes Lionel Messi danced into the Valencia box and scored yet another high class individual goal to put Barcelona in front. With just under ten minutes remaining Lionel Messi bagged his second receiving a lofted pass from Henry and firing past Cesar. Seconds later the diminutive Argentine completed his hat-trick to cap yet another fine individual display. (Second and third goals here.)

Villarreal 2 – Xerez 0 (La Liga, March 14, 2010) Ariel Ibagaza slipped the ball through to Joseba Llorente who finished clinically from 12 yards past Chema in the visiting goal. Marcos Senna, Ibagaza and Cani all threatened to extend the lead, but it took until the 90th minute for Damian Escudero to neatly round off the win with a slick left-footed shot.

Almeria 1 – Malaga 0 (La Liga, March 14, 2010) Fernando Soriano pounced on a Santiago Acasiete knock-down to rifle the ball home and leave Malaga reeling, and despite the Andalusian’s best efforts, they could not fight their way back into the contest, registering their third successive defeat in La Liga.

Tenerife 4 – Espanyol 1 (La Liga, March 14, 2010) Richi gave the Canary Islanders the lead before Nino doubled their advantage and, while Espanyol got back into the game through Joan Verdu 20 minutes from time, Alejandro Alfaro and Nino later rounded off a deserved victory in the closing stages.

Racing Santander 0 – Real Zaragoza 0 (La Liga, March 14, 2010) Racing’s search for a first home league win since early January continues after they were held to a goalless draw by relegation rivals Zaragoza.

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