A look back at some classic goals, debuts, players and moments from this week in LaLiga history…
1st February: Ramos makes an impact on his LaLiga debut (2004)
It’s 18 years ago, and we’re at RC Deportivo’s Abanca-Riazor stadium. Sevilla FC coach Joaquin Caparros is looking to shake up a game with his side one down with an hour played. Caparros turns to his bench and signals to a 17-year-old Sergio Ramos, who replaces midfielder Paco Gallardo to make his LaLiga debut. Minutes later the teenager crunches into a tackle on Depor’s Spanish international winger Albert Luque, who is not at all impressed, and soon needs to be substituted himself. Ramos and his team did not succeed in turning the game around, but the Andalusian had begun his LaLiga career with a bang.
2nd February: Kluivert hits four at Tenerife (2002)
Barcelona wasn’t in a great place as they headed to CD Tenerife on 2nd February 2002, with coach Charly Rexach’s team sitting in eighth place in the LaLiga standings, having been beaten by Rayo Vallecano and CA Osasuna in their previous two games. CD Tenerife was bottom of the table but battling to save their place in the top flight. Barça still had plenty of fight too – and a young Carles Puyol put the visitors 1-0 up after 15 minutes.
Patrick Kluivert then took over, taking Xavi Hernandez’s pass before sliding home his first of the game from a tight angle just before half-time. Kluivert made it 3-0 soon after the break, with a neat near-post finish, then hit his fourth of the game with a poacher’s effort after Javier Saviola’s shot was parried by CD Tenerife goalkeeper Sergio Aragoneses. An own goal from David Charcos completed the scoring. The 6-0 scoreline and Kluivert’s ‘poker’ – the Spanish term for a four-goal haul – lifted the mood among Barça fans, who were enduring a more difficult than-expected season.
2nd February: Ansu Fati keeps breaking records (2020)
By February 2020, FC Barcelona fans were already very excited by the team’s emerging new superstar Ansu Fati, who in the previous months had become Barça’s youngest LaLiga player since 1941 and the team’s youngest ever goalscorer in both LaLiga and the Champions League.
Another landmark came at Camp Nou that afternoon against Levante UD, with Ansu becoming the youngest player ever to score twice in any LaLiga game still aged just 17 years and 3 months.
Both strikes were assisted by Blaugrana talisman Lionel Messi. For the first the youngster ran onto a Messi through ball and fired home from the edge of the area; the second saw him take a pass from the Argentine inside the box and again finish emphatically. Ansu had another record, and more were sure to come.
4th February: Villa shocks Molina from the halfway line (2006)
Depor goalkeeper Jose Molina did not think there was much danger when Valencia CF forward David Villa received the ball with his back to the goal near the halfway line. Neither did anybody else at Abanca-Riazor on 4 February 2006, with the game between two fierce rivals goalless and evenly contested. But Villa stepped away from his marker, and without even looking up, let fly with a sensational right-footed shot. Molina wasn’t even that far off his line, near the penalty spot, but the veteran shot-stopper could not react in time as the ball flew over his head and bounced just inside the right-hand post before nestling in the net.
Over his career, Villa scored 185 goals in 353 games for Real Sporting, Real Zaragoza, Valencia CF, FC Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid, but for sheer shock value, this was the best of all.
5th February: Butragueño bags a brace on his debut (1984)
Real Madrid’s visit to Cadiz CF’s Ramon de Carranza stadium on 5 February 1984 was not going well. The visitors were 2-0 down at half-time, after goals from Cadiz CF’s Benito Sanchez and Jose Mejias. Real Madrid coach Alfredo Di Stefano decided to try something different and sent on a 20-year-old striker named Emilio Butragueno for his LaLiga debut. Within 15 minutes Butragueño had his first LaLiga goal, rifling a shot home from the edge of the area after centre-forward Santillana laid the ball back. The kid almost equalised soon afterwards with a volley that clipped the crossbar, but it was his teammate Ricardo Gallego who headed in a corner for 2-2 with just two minutes remaining. That was still enough time for one last Real Madrid attack – both Angel and Juanito saw shots saved before the ball ran to Butragueño to smack in the winner.
El Buitre was off and soaring and would go on to score 123 LaLiga goals in total over his 12 seasons in the Real Madrid first team. He defined a generation of success at the club – including five consecutive LaLiga titles between 1985 and 1990 – and remains a fixture at the club to this day as Director of Institutional Relations.
10th February: Beckham’s goodbye begins with a goal (2007)
Real Madrid travelled to Real Sociedad’s Reale Arena on 10 February 2007 sitting five points behind LaLiga leaders Barcelona, with galactico David Beckham having recently announced his exit from MLS team LA Galaxy at the end of the season. The visitors’ mood was lowered still further when Mikel Aranburu’s early goal put La Real in front. Then up stepped England captain Beckham to sweep a 25-yard free kick low to the net to equalise. Los Blancos title challenge was alive again, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s winner sealed three huge points for Fabio Capello’s side. Beckham’s free-kick was the last of his 13 LaLiga goals and is now remembered as the key turning point of the season. Madrid lost just one more game as they chased down Barça to win the title on the final day, allowing Beckham to leave for Los Angeles with a LaLiga winners’ medal in his pocket.
10th February: Morientes ‘reporters’ Las Palmas (2002)
Real Madrid went 1-0 up against UD Las Palmas on 10 February 2002 when prolific striker Fernando Morientes rose majestically to head in Luis Figo’s curving cross. After Zinedine Zidane made it 2-0, another perfect Figo delivery helped Morientes nod in his second of the game. El Moro’s hat-trick was completed after the break after Figo’s shot was spilt by UD Las Palmas goalkeeper Nacho Gonzalez. Angel’s own goal made things even worse for the Canary Islanders before yet another perfect cross from Figo was headed in at the back post by Morientes for his ‘poker’ fourth. Neither the striker nor his team was finished yet though, and young right-back Oscar Miñambres was the provider as Morientes yet again headed home for his fifth – a ‘poker’ in Spanish – of the game and 7-0 final score. Morientes scored 122 LaLiga goals in total, for Albacete BP, Real Madrid and Valencia CF, but nothing matched his ‘poker’ vs UD Las Palmas.
12th February: Fernando Torres’ overhead strike in Calderon thriller (2017)
RC Celta’s visit to Atletico de Madrid on 12 February 2017 was about as incident-packed as a LaLiga game can be. RC Celta played a full part with Gustavo Cabral’s early header shocking Vicente Calderon, and John Guidetti finishing off a swift counter to make it 2-1 to the visitors with 12 minutes remaining. Also on the scoresheet were Yannick Carrasco with a fine 20-yard volley and Antoine Griezmann who won the three points for Atletico de Madrid by knocking home Kevin Gameiro’s nod down in the 88th minute. RC Celta midfielder Jozabed also struck a post, while Fernando Torres smacked a penalty off the crossbar. But most dramatic of all was Torres’ acrobatic bicycle-kick lob of visiting goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez in the first half. Torres scored 103 LaLiga goals in his two spells as an Atletico player, but few goals better demonstrated the former Spain centre-forward’s mix of physical, technical, and predatory gifts.
14th February: CD Leganes falls in love with Butarque (1998)
Following CD Leganes’ foundation in 1928 in the eponymous satellite city just to the south of Madrid, Los Pepineros played for four decades at the Campo de la Plaza de Roma, then called the Estadio Luis Rodríguez de Miguel home until 1998, when they moved into the more modern surroundings of the municipally owned Estadio Municipal Butarque. The first game on 14 January 1998 was a 1-1 LaLiga SmartBank draw against Xerez CD, with Lega’s Julian Ronda equalising after the visitors had gone ahead through Fernando Román. Upfront for the home team, that day was future superstar FC Barcelona Samuel Eto’o and Brazilian goalscorer Catania, who would also later play in the top flight for Málaga CF and RC Celta. By 2016, CD Leganes had made it to LaLiga Santander level themselves, and Estadio Municipal Butarque was upgraded to today’s 11,000-seater stadium, now one of the most comfortable and homely places to watch a game in Spanish football.
15th February: Marcelo opens his LaLiga account (2009)
February 15 2009 at El Molinon and visitors Real Madrid are already 2-0 up at Real Sporting thanks to goals from Raul Gonzalez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Sporting tries to react, but Blancos coach Juande Ramos’ side breaks dangerously and Gonzalo Higuain’s clever back-flick puts the ball into space. Into the picture arrows emerging star left-back Marcelo, who sprints clear of the Sporting defence, and finishes calmly past goalkeeper Iñaki Lafuente. Raul later completed a 4-0 victory, Madrid’s eighth win on the bounce in LaLiga. Marcelo’s clean strike was his first of 25 career LaLiga goals, and the now 33-year-old club captain has since added five LaLiga titles.
17th February: Girona FC storm the Santiago Bernabéu for the first time ever (2019)
Real Madrid appeared to be easing to a straightforward victory against Girona FC on 17 February 2019, when Casemiro’s thumping header from Toni Kroos’ corner had them a goal ahead at halftime. Los Blancos then fell asleep in the afternoon sun after half-time, and a penalty awarded for a handball by Sergio Ramos allowed Cristhian Stuani to make it 1-1. The visitors completed the turnaround when winger Portu headed to the net after Thibaut Courtois saved from Anthony ‘Choco’ Lozano. A new fully awake Real Madrid poured forward looking for an equaliser, only for Ramos to be shown a second yellow for dangerous play when attempting a bicycle kick near the Girona goal. The extra dramatic 90 minutes brought the Catalan team’s first – and only to date – LaLiga victory at the Santiago Bernabéu.
19th February: Messi hits four against Valencia CF as record year takes off (2012)
Barcelona’s Camp Nou was silenced momentarily on 19 February 2012 when Valencia CF winger Pablo Piatti cleverly took advantage of hesitation in the home defence to make it 1-0 after just 8 minutes. The Blaugrana fans were not overly worried though – knowing they had Lionel Messi on their side and coming into the best goalscoring form of his career. The Argentine turned the game around with clinical close-range strikes in six minutes midway through the first half, and then added two more including a sublime ‘vaseline’ lob of Los Che goalkeeper Diego Alves. Xavi Hernandez completed the scoring for 5-1, but the headlines were claimed by Messi’s first career ‘poker’ four-goal haul. He soon added another ‘poker’ in LaLiga against neighbours Espanyol, on his way to a phenomenal haul of 91 goals in the 2012 calendar year – 12 with Argentina, 79 for FC Barcelona, and 59 in LaLiga.
20th February: Aranzubia heads his way into LaLiga goalkeeping history (2011)
20 February 2011 and RC Deportivo are 1-0 down at fellow relegation battlers UD Almeria, thanks to a superb strike from Pablo Piatti… with 94 minutes on the clock. The visitors win one last corner, and Pablo Alvarez swings the ball towards the penalty spot. A crowd of players rise to meet it, and highest of all leaps Depor goalkeeper Dani Aranzubia, who powers a classic number nine’s header to the net. Basque netminder Aranzubia had saved the game for his side and became just the sixth-ever goalkeeper to score a Spanish league goal. Recently, two keepers add their names to this illustrious list: Marko Dmitrović, now of Sevilla FC but then of SD Eibar, and his Sevilla FC teammate and Morocco international Bono, who scored against Atletico de Madrid and Real Valladolid respectively.
22 February: Tristan and Makaay trade goals, and Pichichis (2003)
RC Deportivo went goal crazy on 22 February 2003 when Deportivo Alaves visited the Abanca-Riazor, with deadly duo Diego Tristan and Roy Makaay responsible for most of the damage – as usual. Just 16 minutes in, Tristan surprised visiting goalkeeper Richard Dutruel from an angle to open the scoring. ‘The Phantom’ soon had his second of the game, dribbling three Alaves defenders and firing past Dutruel. A mistake by visiting centre-back Abelardo Fernandez allowed strike partner Makaay to get his name on the scoresheet before half-time. Into the second half and the Dutchman soon found himself one-on-one with French goalkeeper Dutruel and finished with aplomb. Tristan completed his hat trick by heading in Joan Capdevila’s cross. Substitute Albert Luque rounded off the 6-0 win late on. Depor could boast the two sharpest strikers in Spain – Makaay won LaLiga Santander’s Pichichi topscorer trophy that season, with 29 in 38 games. Tristan had won it the season before, with 21 goals in 34 games. Few duos in LaLiga history have been just as deadly.
24 February: Coutinho’s first goal for Barça in LaLiga (2018)
Girona FC were the visitors to Camp Nou on 24 February 2018, and doubles from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi had Barcelona 4-0 ahead with just over an hour played. There did not seem much on when Suarez hit a short pass to Philippe Coutinho, near the corner of the penalty area. Coutinho started by running away from the goal, towards the sideline, but then cleverly doubled back to get away from Girona FC midfielder Pere Pons. The Brazilian had worked an ideal angle for one of his trademarks right-footed curling shots, 25 yards out and just to the left of the goal. The ball flew past the outstretched arms of visiting goalkeeper Bono and nestled in the net. It was Coutinho’s first LaLiga goal for Barcelona, who he had joined from Liverpool the month before.
24 February: Getafe CF catches Real Madrid out to shock the Bernabeu (2008)
It was goalless at the Santiago Bernabéu on 24 February 2008, with just over an hour gone and visitors Getafe CF on the rack. But all that was about to change. Real Madrid defender Miguel Torres (who would later play for Getafe CF) breaks forward and shoots. Visiting goalkeeper Roberto ‘Pato’ Abbondanzieri saves, but the rebound falls to Raúl Gonzalez, who calmly sets up Arjen Robben to knock to the empty goal. Real Madrid’s players run to celebrate with the home fans, not noticing that the linesman had signalled a clear offside against Raúl. Abbondanzieri does see the flag though, and restarts play quickly. Suddenly four Getafe CF players are racing through on Blancos goalkeeper Iker Casillas, with only two defenders aware of what’s happening. Nigeria international Ikechukwu Uche is free to fire past an unprotected Casillas for the only goal of the game. And it remains to this day Getafe CF’s only ever LaLiga victory at the Bernabéu.
28th February: Griezmann sparkles in the rain at the Cívitas Metropolitano (2018)
A torrential rainstorm hit Atletico de Madrid’s Cívitas Metropolitano stadium on 28 February 2018, while on the pitch visitors, Leganes was hit by a four-goal blast from Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann and Leganes midfielder Gerard Gumbau had both hit the woodwork before the rojiblanco number seven ran onto a super pass from Koke and shot low to the net to open the scoring. Griezmann’s second was a free kick from the edge of the penalty area, and his hat-trick was completed by the hour mark with an acrobatic hanging header from a fine curving Filipe Luis cross. He went one better not long after, knocking home from Diego Costa’s assist to become the first French player ever to score four times in one LaLiga game. That also made it seven goals in seven days for Griezmann, who had scored a hat-trick at Sevilla the weekend before.