La Liga: Barcelona take top spot with win, Real Madrid loss
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid lost the Spanish league lead and its first game of the season as Sevilla mounted a 3-2 comeback on Sunday, letting Barcelona take over top spot in the standings before the rivals meet next round.
Ciro Immobile scored his first goal for Sevilla before Ever Banega and Fernando Llorente added strikes to complete the rally after Sergio Ramos put Madrid ahead. James Rodriguez scored a consolation in injury time.
Hours before, Neymar helped Barcelona take the league lead by scoring two goals— with Luis Suarez netting another— in a 3-0 win at home over Villarreal.
Barcelona needed an hour of insistent attacks until Neymar broke through before Suarez added a penalty in the 70th.
Neymar scored an exquisite second goal in the 85th when he used a sublime touch to flip the ball over a defender before spinning and driving it home.
"I thought about the move before I did it, and I pulled it off," Neymar said. "I'm happy with what I am giving the team, but I think I can improve."
One thing is clear: Neymar and Suarez are giving Barcelona's fans hope that they won't need Messi to get a good result at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
The two stars lead Barcelona with 13 goals each this season and have scored 20 of Barcelona's 23 goals since Messi tore a ligament in his left knee on Sept. 26. Neymar scored twice and Suarez once in a 3-0 win over BATE Borisov in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique left open the possibility of Messi being fit for the big match.
"Do I rule him out for the 'clasico'? I can't say yes, nor can I say no. He is recovering and recovering well," Luis Enrique said. "We are infinitely stronger with Messi."
In the capital, Antoine Griezmann scored a header three minutes into stoppage time to give Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory over Sporting Gijon that lifted it into third place at four points off the lead.
Villarreal neutralized Barcelona's superior possession in the first half, and its patience almost paid off when forward Samuel Castillejo tested Claudio Bravo seconds before halftime.
But Villarreal, which was left in fifth place after a third away game without a win, couldn't keep up as Barcelona poured forward.
The tense, tactical match led to Iniesta, Neymar and Suarez all getting booked for protesting by early in the second half, before Barcelona nearly scored when Dani Alves hit the post in the 48th.
Barcelona's breakthrough didn't take long. Sergio Busqusts intercepted a pass and played Neymar clear in the area, with the Brazilian scoring with his left foot.
Munir El Haddadi then set up Suarez when Jaume Costa fouled the forward while dribbling past him in the area, and the striker sent his spot kick to the right of goalie Alphonse Aroela as he dove the other way.
With the win in hand, Neymar added some flare by scoring his graceful goal to take his league-leading tally to 11.
Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams scored his fifth goal in eight days to help beat Espanyol 2-1.
His eighth-minute opener was similar to Neymar's second strike, as the 21-year-old lifted the ball over a defender before unleashing a powerful shot.