The anniversaries for this week include Cristiano smashing five past Granada, Messi becomes LaLiga’s all-time winningest player, some huge landmarks for RC Deportivo, the final LaLiga goals for Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Henrik Larsson, Andres Iniesta’s first LaLiga goal, an ElClasico win for the ‘English Connection’…
5th April: Cristiano Ronaldo’s historic ‘repoker’ against Granada (2015)
The mood was low at the Santiago Bernabeu ahead of kick-off on Easter Sunday 2015, as Real Madrid had lost the previous week’s LaLiga Clasico to title rivals Barcelona. But 90 minutes later the stadium was buoyant again after Cristiano Ronaldo had scored five times in a game for the first time in his career, and Los Blancos netted nine for the first time in 50 years. Four of Ronaldo’s strikes were expert first touch finishes, the other a wicked long ranger which deceived Granada keeper Oier Olazabal. The feat took Ronaldo back ahead of Barça’s Lionel Messi in the LaLiga top scorer race, and the 9-1 result gave Real Madrid a much-needed energy boost to keep the title race going.
6th April – LaLiga top scorer Diego Tristan nets a hat-trick against his former club (2002)
RC Deportivo striker Diego Tristan was welcomed happily by former club RCD Mallorca in April 2002, with fans still grateful for his earlier contribution to their cause. There were fewer smiles at Son Moix with half an hour played, as Tristan had reminded his old supporters of his quality with a quick-fire hat-trick. That season Tristan, who chose Depor over Real Madrid when leaving Mallorca in summer 2000, won LaLiga’s ‘pichichi’ top scorer award with 21 goals. The Seville-born Spain international finished his career with 96 goals in 227 LaLiga games, but that treble against Mallorca still stands out in the story of one of the most lethal, yet often forgotten strikers of the early 21st century.
6 April – Lionel Messi becomes LaLiga’s all-time winningest player (2019)
Lionel Messi scoring for Barcelona in a LaLiga defeat of Atletico de Madrid is not exactly unprecedented, but the clinching strike in a 2-0 at the Camp Nou on 6th April 2019 was especially historic. And not just as it all but secured that season’s LaLiga title for the blaugrana. That evening Messi set a new personal mark of 335 victories in LaLiga games, passing the previous record holder Iker Casillas of Real Madrid. The Argentine has currently moved that record to 354 LaLiga wins, all in a Barca shirt. And many more seem certain once football returns.
8th April – Roy Makaay’s hat-trick sees Depor close on a first ever title (2000)
RC Deportivo visited Atletico de Madrid on 8th April 2000 with seven games left to play and a super exciting LaLiga title race coming to the boil. Enter Netherlands striker Roy Makaay, who used his pace and composed finishing to bag a hat-trick, helping Depor to a 4-1 victory which showed their championship mettle. That weekend also saw second placed Barcelona lose 3-0 at home to a Diego Tristan inspired RCD Mallorca, meaning Depor took a five point lead at the top. Both Barça and Real Madrid came with late runs, but the Galicians held off the big-two to seal a first ever LaLiga title. A historic player in a historic team.
9th April – Two great European strikers score their last LaLiga goals (2006, 2012)
Despite coming to LaLiga late in their careers, Henrik Larsson and Ruud Van Nistelrooy made a lasting impression on Spanish football. After joining Barcelona in summer 2004, Larsson won LaLiga titles in each of his two seasons at the Camp Nou, with the last of the Swede’s 13 LaLiga goals a neat strike to open the scoring in a 2-2 draw against Racing Santander on this day in 2006.
Van Nistelrooy also won LaLiga titles in both his initial years at the Bernabeu and took the ‘Pichichi’ top scorer prize for 25 LaLiga goals in his first campaign. The Dutchman later finished his career at Malaga, where his final contribution was a flashing header to the net, also against Racing, and also on 9 April, late in the 2011/12 season.
10th April – The first of many from Andres Iniesta (2004)
The 17,000 crowd at Valladolid’s Jose Zorilla stadium witnessed a piece of history on April 10th 2004. Late in the game, a 21-year-old substitute called Andres Iniesta took a pass from Luis Enrique and tricked home keeper Albano Bizzarri to score his first LaLiga goal, completing a 3-1 away win. Iniesta went on to score 34 more times in a total of 442 LaLiga Santander games across 16 seasons in Barça’s first team, winning a frankly unbelievable nine LaLiga titles. Still playing at Japanese team Vissel Kobe, Iniesta is also now an official LaLiga Ambassador.
10th April – The English Connection wins El Clasico (2005)
Real Madrid had to win El Clasico vs Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu late on in the 2004/05 season to keep that their LaLiga title race alive. And their 4-2 victory owed much to the English influence within that first galacticos side. Then England captain David Beckham provided two trademark assists, including an inch-perfect 50-yard pass to send international teammate Michael Owen clear to expertly finish the clinching fourth goal. Also on the scoresheet, that day were Zinedine Zidane, Samuel Eto’o, Raul Gonzalez and Ronaldinho, showing the level of world-class talents on both sides. But this remains the Clasico the English won.