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Ball Bullet 10-March European round-up:
10-March European round-up:

Barcelona overcame the absence of Lionel Messi to win 2-0 at basement club Málaga, goals from Luis Suárez and Philippe Coutinho sending them 11 points clear at the top of La Liga while Real Madrid left it late to win 2-1 at Eibar.

Messi missed a league game for the first time this season so he could attend the birth of his third son Ciro. However, Barça barely needed their talisman against freefalling Málaga, who had the striker Samu García sent off after half an hour and slumped to a seventh consecutive league defeat.

Suárez headed home a looping cross from Jordi Alba to give Barcelona the lead in the 15th minute and his former Liverpool team-mate Coutinho struck the second in the 28th with a backheel from close range after an impressive dribble from Ousmane Dembélé.

Málaga did manage to create two chances in the first half but they could not test the Barça goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.

The Málaga goalkeeper Roberto Jiménez was kept busy at the other end and did well to thwart Paulinho, Samuel Umtiti and Dembélé, while Suárez picked up a booking that means he is suspended for Barça’s next game against Athletic Bilbao.

Barcelona are still unbeaten in the league and lead the table with 72 points, 11 clear of Atlético Madrid who host Celta Vigo on Sunday. Real Madrid are third on 57 after seeing off dogged Eibar with two strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo.

The prolific winger scored for the seventh successive game in all competitions by blasting the ball into the net in the 34th minute after chesting down a long ball by Luka Modric. Iván Ramis pulled one back for Eibar when he outjumped Sergio Ramos to head home from a corner in the 50th minute.

The irrepressible Ronaldo had the final say, however, meeting a cross from Dani Carvajal in the area and powering the ball beyond the goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic in the 84th minute, scoring a 13th goal in his last seven games in all competitions.

Ronaldo has roared back from a feeble start to the season, when he scored only once in his first eight league games, to reach 18 goals in the league. Saturday’s double moved him to third in La Liga’s scoring charts, trailing Suárez and Messi.

“He’s from another galaxy,” said Zinedine Zidane. “He knows he’s going to score, he’s unique and special. His stats speak for him. And he’s our player. He’s always positive and, if he scores twice, he wants to score a third.”

While Real are third in La Liga, tiny Eibar are in contention for a European place next season. They made the better start to the game, with Zidane admitting his side struggled in the opening stages. “This victory makes me feel very good, because they were the better side for a while, they played very well,” said the Real Madrid coach.

“This is a very difficult ground to come to and they know how to play here. We knew we were going to suffer and we did, we had trouble getting hold of the ball but we fought together with character and got the win.”

Valencia tightened their grip on fourth place in the standings and took a giant leap towards a return to the Champions League by winning 2-0 at Sevilla, a result that opens up an 11-point gap between the two sides, with the Andalusians in fifth.

Rodrigo Moreno scored either side of half-time to inflict a third home defeat in little more than two months on Sevilla, whose best chance of getting back into Europe’s elite competition may now rest on them winning the tournament.

Vincenzo Montella’s side visit Manchester United on Tuesday, after a goalless first leg of their last-16 tie.

Struggling Levante snapped a run of 15 games without a win by beating Getafe 1-0 away in their manager Paco López’s first game in charge, lifting his side four points above the relegation zone.

Robert Lewandowski hit a hat-trick as Bayern Munich restored their 20-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with a comfortable 6-0 victory over Hamburg.

In Hamburg’s last three league visits to the Allianz Arena Bernd Hollerbach’s side had shipped 21 goals and Franck Ribéry set up another difficult afternoon with a tap-in on eight minutes.

Lewandowski hit a quickfire double to put the hosts 3-0 up inside 18 minutes before Arjen Robben curled in a shot after the restart.

A stunning solo goal from Ribéry moved Bayern 5-0 clear before Lewandowski blazed over a late penalty, only for the Poland international to slot home a second spot-kick in the 90th minute to seal his treble and landmark 100th Bundesliga goal for the Bavarian club.

and in Gernany Bundesliga:

Hamburg, who have competed in every season of the Bundesliga, remain seven points from a safe position after Wolfsburg fell to a 3-0 defeat at Hoffenheim. Goals by Nico Schulz, Serge Gnabry and an own goal from Josuha Guilavogui helped Hoffenheim seal all three points.

In the late game, Bayer Leverkusen moved third, at least until Sunday, by beating Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0.

Augsburg moved four points off the European places with a 3-1 win at Hannover, with two goals from Michael Gregoritsch and one from Gojko Kacar.

Freiburg moved five points clear of the relegation zone after playing out a goalless draw at mid-table Hertha Berlin.
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