/ Soccer

Barcelona continue devastating league form with another easy victory

Updated: Sunday, 02 Dec 2012 22:20 | Comments

(L-R) Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba and Cesc Fabregas celebrate at the Nou Camp
(L-R) Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba and Cesc Fabregas celebrate at the Nou Camp

Barcelona opened up a six-point lead at the Primera Division summit this evening after Lionel Messi's brace inspired a 5-1 rout of Athletic Bilbao, with Real Madrid then seeing off second-placed Atletico Madrid 2-0 in the late kick-off on Saturday night.

Messi's 83rd and 84th goals of the calendar year left the Argentina forward needing just one more goal to equal Gerd Muller's record of 85 in a calendar year, set in 1972.

The result was never in doubt at the Nou Camp as two goals in three minutes - from Gerard Pique and a deflected Messi effort - midway through the opening 45 minutes put Barca firmly in the ascendancy and Adriano added a superb third in first-half stoppage time.

AdrianoCesc Fabregas notched a neat fourth soon after the break and, after Ibai Gomez had pulled a goal back with Athletic's first noteworthy attack of the match, Messi rounded things off with a brilliant fifth goal.

The emphatic win consolidated top spot in La Liga for Tito Vilanova's team, whose only dropped points in 14 games this term came in the 2-2 draw against Real Madrid in October - making their start the best ever to a top-flight season in Spain.

Third-placed Real Madrid remained 11 points off the pace after winning a highly-anticipated derby 2-0, ensuring Atletico's winless run in the fixture will stretch into its 14th year.

A wonderful free-kick from Cristiano Ronaldo lit up what was an otherwise disappointing first half before Mesut Ozil secured all three points with a tidy finish 25 minutes from time.

10-man Valencia went down 5-2 against Real Sociedad - with coach Mauricio Pellegrino sacked soon after the full-time whistle at the Mestalla.

"We have been exchanging views, and we made the decision to dismiss Mauricio Pellegrino," Valencia president Manuel Llorente said.

Former player Salvador Gonzalez, known as Voro, will take temporary charge of Los Che.

Sporting director Braulio Vazquez added on the club's website: "If you look at the future of the team, you can understand that in this game we have not been good, but the progression of the team was not right.

"I want to emphasise that Mauricio has gone, but it is the responsibility of all."

Roberto Soldado's second-minute strike had given the hosts an early lead but they were never in control and were pegged back before half-time as Alberto de la Bella fired in an equaliser minutes after Jonas had seen a straight red card for lashing out at David Zurutuza.

Sociedad took control in the second period as further goals from Mikel Gonzalez, Diego Ifran, Imanol Agirretxe and Carlos Vela rendered Soldado's second of the evening meaningless and lifted the victors to seventh.

Also, Getafe moved level on points with fourth-placed Malaga thanks to a 1-0 win. Alberto Lopo headed home the game's only goal 11 minutes into the second half.
Albert Lopo

On Sunday, Roger's 89th-minute strike rescued a point for Levante as Celta Vigo failed to make their dominance count at Estadio de Balaidos.

Enrique De Lucas got the benefit of a marginal offside call to put his side ahead in the first half, yet despite dominating possession after break the home side could not add to their tally.

Levante made them pay late on as Roger popped up to turn the ball home from close range after fellow substitute Michel had volleyed across the face of goal.

Joel Campbell, on loan from Arsenal, curled a spectacular shot into the top corner to earn Real Betis a 3-2 victory at Deportivo La Coruna.

The Costa Rica forward cut in off the right flank to finish in style in the 77th minute after struggling Deportivo had battled back to level at 2-2 in the second half.

Betis have 25 points from 14 games, four behind Real Madrid in third.

Betis striker Ruben Castro headed the visitors in front after a well-worked move before the break at the Riazor and also pounced for his eighth goal of the season in the 54th with a clever dinked finish just inside the far post.

Depor responded immediately when Riki broke the offside trap to head in two minutes later and by the 60th the hosts had drawn level as the same player made the most of a poor clearance to score his second.Defeat left promoted Depor second from bottom in the table with 11 points, one ahead of Espanyol who could only manage a 0-0 draw at Granada on new coach Javier Aguirre's debut.

In the late game, 10-man Real Zaragoza held on for a 1-1 draw at Real Mallorca.

Zaragoza had defender Glenn Loovens sent off for a foul in the area after only 13 minutes, but their keeper Roberto made a great save to deny Victor from the penalty spot.

Two minutes later, Portugal striker Helder Postiga pounced on a loose ball to put the visitors ahead and Mallorca, without a win in 11 matches in all competitions, laboured to react.

Victor finally made amends for his penalty miss with an 86th-minute header for the equaliser.

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