5 truths: Ronaldo and Messi can't always save the day, Rooney's cobblers, Pep keeps good Kompany
Our writers study another busy night of football at home and abroad as we bring you five truths we noticed from the evening's action.
1. Ronaldo and Bale not always the answer for Real Madrid
You can’t win them all, but Real Madrid will be disappointed that their winning record ended at 16 with a 1-1 draw against Villarreal at the Bernabeu. The home side were largely dominant, but just could not find a way through the visiting defence after Sergio Ramos had equalised with a header after half-time. It was Ramos who was at fault for Villarreal’s opening goal when he blocked a shot with his hand enabling Bruno Soriano to score with a penalty, going straight down the middle.
So Madrid will have to be content to share the all-time winning Liga record with Pep Guardiola’s side of 2010/11. There is a very strange sort of truth about this evening. Without Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Madrid won 2-0 at Espanyol on Sunday evening. With them, they were held to a 1-1 draw. Not everything in Madrid’s world is sorted out by their leading men.
Cristiano Ronaldo despairsAFP
2. Messi injury a blight on a frustrating night for Barca
Atletico Madrid know how to apply pressure to Barcelona and Real Madrid. We've known that for some time during their rise to the Liga title in 2014 and the Champions League final in recent seasons. Diego Simeone's side were well worth their 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp courtesy of a performance of some discipline. Barca will be disappointed at failing to snare three points, but of more concern is the groin injury to Lionel Messi, who was replaced by Arda Turan after colliding with Diego Godin. Ivan Rakitic had given Luis Enrique's side the lead before Angel Correa restored parity for Atletico two minutes after Barca lost Messi. Madrid remain three points clear of Barca.
3.Manchester United’s main job was to win, nothing else
Forget about scoring goals at Northampton, all that mattered to Jose Mourinho visiting the League One side was emerging with a win from their third-round meeting. The League Cup may not mean much to United, but it takes on added significance when the team has been on the receiving end of three straight defeats to Manchester City and Watford in the Premier League, and Feyenoord in the Europa League. United were not brilliant, but had enough to complete the victory courtesy of goals from Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford, on his League Cup debut. Alex Revell had restored parity for the home side, but United remained composed to end their recent travails.
Manchester United's Michael Carrick celebrates scoring their first goal with team matesReuters
4. Rooney cobbles together another fairly forgettable evening
Jose Mourinho said he expected goals from Wayne Rooney against the Cobblers. Wayne Rooney probably expected a few too, but the England forward seemed anxious in the final third as he screed an early effort wide early before progressing to endure a night that won’t go down as his most memorable in the football. Rooney struggles in midfield, but isn’t finishing chances up front. After Watford at the weekend, this was further proof that he has yet to find his best position in Mourinho’s side - if indeed there is a position for him.
5. Guardiola will be happy to see Kompany back
Unlike Yaya Toure, Pep Guardiola will only be too happy to see Vincent Kompany return in his side’s 2-1 win over Swansea City. Kompany had not turned out for City since the semi-final defeat to Real Madrid in May, but looked like he had never been away as he slotted in alongside Pablo Zabaleta and John Stones in an comfortable victory over their under-strength Premier League foes at the Liberty Stadium. With City returning to Swansea at the weekend before visiting Celtic in the Champions League, it is always pleasant to have options. The comeback was marred, however, by the fact that Kompany left the field before the final whistle - Guardiola will be hoping it was not a recurrence of that hamstring injury that forced his captain off.