Competition
  • Champions League

Cristiano, Carrasco and Rafinha are Saturday's headline-makers

Cristiano smiling again with hat-trick at Mendizorroza

"He's not anxious, he's angry," Zinedine Zidane had said of Cristiano Ronaldo on the eve of Alavés-Real Madrid. Well, he's calmed down now. For Cristiano, there's no better remedy than goals, and on Saturday he got three. His anger moved to the stands in Vitoria, where the home fans were less than convinced about the penalty that saw Real make it 1-1. I wasn't either. Given the force of the deflection, I initially felt the ball had hit Deyverson's head; then, after several replays, that it had found his elbow, so was a spot-kick; finally it looked just to be his head again, i.e. no pen. Anyway, it brought a leveller that was a relief to a team seriously struggling.

Cristiano Ronaldo took the match ball in Vitoria on Saturday.

Despite scoreline, visitors made to work hard by Alavés

Because Alavés had been the better side, and still would be for a significant chunk of the match. With the hosts in a 3-5-2, Real were finding themselves overrun in midfield, not helped by the perennial laziness of a BBC who take no interest in tracking back. Alavés played well, particularly a terrific Theo Hernández. Yet they lost 4-1. The ref wasn't the only cause, though; they also missed more than one chance (Real didn't) and dropped off in the last 15. They come away with their good display and a sense of anger; Real with the points and a smile back on CR7's face. We were again left to wonder about Karim Benzema and Álvaro Morata, mind you.

An on-song Yannick Carrasco grabbed a brace in Atlético Madrid's 4-2 victory over Málaga.

Carrasco, Rafinha to fore as Atlético and Barcelona win too

Atlético Madrid also won, with Yannick Carrasco in unstoppable form. Another idol is emerging at the Calderón on a par with Antoine Griezmann, one of those attackers with a touch of the unplayable about them when they're on fire. He scored two, the second when Atleti, with a man less, were under pressure. And in Barcelona the man of the moment was Rafinha, whose strike rescued an off-night for his side. Leo Messi had one of his few bad days at the office, his performance tailing off, and Barça looked a different team without his precise left peg (or Andrés Iniesta and Sergio Busquets). Granada were organised but posed no threat, so one goal was all it took to see them off. Rafinha, by the way, is now on five.