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La Liga Weekly: Bellingham shines again, Atletico hit seven, Barcelona beat Villarreal

There were goals aplenty in the third gameweek of the 2023/24 La Liga season.

Real Madrid are the only team left with a perfect record after three games, and are the early leaders in the table.

Here’s a recap of all the happenings on Matchday 3.

Real Madrid win, but in bittersweet fashion

Jude Bellingham was once again the hero for Madrid, as a late goal from the Englishman sealed a 1-0 away win against Celta Vigo. Bellingham is now the top-scorer in the Spanish league, with four goals in three games.

The victory came at a cost as Vinicius Junior was taken off with an injury in the 18th minute. The Brazilian suffered a thigh injury and is expected to miss the next six weeks, according to Marca.

Celta Vigo had an early goal disallowed for offside when striker Jorgen Strand Larsen poked the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the third minute.

Madrid had 64% possession in the game but were unable to create too many clear goalscoring opportunities.

They were awarded a penalty in the 68th minute when Celta goalkeeper Ivan Villar fouled Rodrygo in the box. However, Villar thwarted Rodrygo with a fantastic save to his right.

It took until the 81st minute for the deadlock to be broken. A corner was headed on by Joselu, who had come on for Vinicius, and Bellingham showed great desire to get ahead of his man and head home.

Carlo Ancelotti will be pleased with the result, which gives Madrid nine points out of nine, but will need to find solutions without Vinicius Jr for the games ahead.

Barcelona win seven-goal thriller against Villarreal

The Catalan giants were unconvincing defensively, but some standout individual performances from Lamine Yamal and Frenkie De Jong saw them beat Villarreal 4-3 at El Madrigal.

Looking to find the best combination in defence, Xavi went with a four-man backline with Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso as full-backs. The set-up looked to be shaky right from the start, as Villarreal showed signs of getting in behind with ease.

The away side took the lead against the run of play in the 12th minute. Gavi got on the end of a Yamal cross at the back post to head home. Three minutes later, Barcelona’s lead was doubled as De Jong ghosted to the edge of the box unnoticed and swept home.

Villarreal had cause for hope as they were creating chances and penetrating the Barcelona defence on a regular basis. They were level before half-time, as goals from Juan Foyth and a first for the club for Alexander Sorloth shocked the visitors.

It got even better for the Yellow Submarine four minutes into the second half when Alex Baena finished off a tidy passing move to make it 3-2 and complete the turnaround.

Xavi gambled with his next substitution, bringing on Ferran Torres for the more defensive Oriol Romeu. It took only five minutes for the Spaniard to make an impact, as his second goal of the season made it 3-3.

The final act of the game was fittingly made by teenager Yamal, who has been a shining light in this Barcelona team this season.

He cut inside from the left and unleashed a low shot, which came back off the post. Robert Lewandowski was on hand to tap home, for one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.

It was a memorable and dramatic win for Barcelona, but there are still more questions than answers as Xavi tries to find the right combination.

Atletico hit Vallecano for seven

Rayo Vallecano came into Matchday 3 with a perfect record but were given an absolute hiding by Diego Simeone’s men at the Estadio de Vallecas.

The home side’s 4-4-2 was just not able to contest with the three midfielders in Atletico’s 3-5-2, as the away side found it easy to play through the press.

They took the lead in the second minute, as Antoine Griezmann continued his good start to the season with a beautiful volleyed finish.

Memphis Depay made it 2-0 in the 16th minute but then suffered an injury and was replaced by Alvaro Morata.

Nahuel Molina continued his recent goalscoring form to see Atletico go into half-time with a 3-0 lead.

It only got better in the second half, as goals from substitutes Angel Correa, Marcos Llorente and a brace from Morata saw Atletico in seventh heaven.

Around the grounds

Athletic Bilbao had a day to remember, as they came from two goals down to beat Real Betis 4-2. Goals in the first 10 minutes from Willian Jose and Isco gave the away side a dream start.

Bilbao were then awarded two penalties that were both converted by Mikel Vesga. Gorka Guruzeta made it 3-2 in the seventh minute of first-half injury time.

The second half was well-contested, but the victory for Bilbao was sealed in the 84th minute when substitute Unai Gomez scored his first goal for the club.

The first game of the weekend was saw Las Palmas and Real Sociedad play out a goalless draw.

Garcia Pimienta’s side continue to impress in their first season back in the top flight, as they dominated the possession and chances created against Sociedad.

Almeria scored an injury-time equaliser away at Cadiz to secure a 1-1 draw and gain their first point of the season.

Luis Hernandez had given the home side the lead, but Kaiky Fernandes scored his first goal for Almeria to give his side a share of the spoils.

Girona’s surprisingly good start to the season continued as they beat Sevilla 2-1 away from home. This means that Sevilla have lost each of their first three games and are at the bottom of the La Liga table.

Valencia’s perfect start to the season ended as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Osasuna.

Hugo Duro thought he had earned a point for the hosts when he cancelled out Aimar Oroz’s first-half penalty with ten minutes left to play.

Right-back Nacho Vidal popped up with his first goal for Osasuna in the fifth minute of injury time to earn a memorable victory.

Getafe beat Deportivo Alaves 1-0 at home, thanks to an 84th-minute penalty by Borja Mayoral.

Player of the week

Our player of the week is Barcelona’s Yamal. The 16-year-old is showing maturity beyond his years and has been the biggest positive for Xavi this season.

He had a hand in two of the four goals his side scored against Villarreal and was unfortunate not to score himself, as he hit the woodwork more than once.

Yamal will only get better as the season rolls on, and Barcelona may just have a superstar on their hands.

Ones to watch in Gameweek 4

Madrid’s next test is at home to Getafe on Matchday 4, and it will be interesting to see how they play against a side that will look to contain them.

Bellingham has popped up with goals every week, but Ancelotti will need a few more individuals to stand up and deliver, especially in the absence of Vinicius Jr.

Barcelona travel to Osasuna, who will be riding high after their dramatic last-minute win over Valencia.

Sevilla’s bid to end their losing streak gets harder this week as they travel to the Spanish capital to take on Atletico Madrid, who are in red-hot form.

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