Barcelona increase pressure on Real with romp in Zaragoza
Apr 7, 2012, 20:38 GMT
Madrid - Barcelona came from behind on Saturday to win 4-1 at lowly Zaragoza, with two more goals from FIFA World Player Lionel Messi.
It was Barca's ninth straight league win and left them just three points behind leaders Real Madrid, who were scheduled to receive third-placed Valencia on Sunday.
An eventful first half in Zaragoza saw Barca keeper Victor Valdes pull down Angel Lafita for a clear penalty, but then save the spot-kick of veteran Carlos Aranda.
However, Aranda then gave the hosts the lead on the half hour after being played through by Pablo Alvarez.
Barca struck back quickly and within 10 minutes were up 2-1. Puyol equalized after Zaragoza keeper Roberto dropped a centre, then Messi gave the visitors the lead with his trusty left foot, after a quick break engineered by Alexis Sanchez.
The first half finished with Zaragoza being reduced to 10 men when defender Abraham clumsily picked up his second yellow card.
Zaragoza, who are third from bottom, never looked capable of avoiding defeat against the world champions, particularly with one man less.
Five minutes from time, Barca were given a disputed penalty after Javier Paredes brought down Alexis, and Messi calmly made it 3-1 from the spot.
It was the little Argentine's 38th league goal, one ahead of Real's Cristiano Ronaldo atop the scorer's chart.
Winger Pedro scored Barca's fourth goal in injury-time after being set up by the majestic Messi.
Earlier Saturday, Sporting Gijon crashed to the bottom of La Liga with a 2-0 defeat at midtable Getafe.
Gijon have won just once since Javier Clemente took over two months ago, and the former Spain manager is now in danger of the sack.
Venezuelan striker Miku put Getafe ahead in the 23rd minute by heading in a free-kick from man-of-the-match Jaime Gavilan. Two minutes into the second half, the elegant Gavilan set up Diego Castro to make it 2-0 against his former club.
Gijon are level at the bottom on 25 points with Racing Santander, who travel Monday to Malaga.
Osasuna's Euro hopes were dented by a 6-0 meltdown at Rayo Vallecano, for whom Michu scored twice. The same as neighbours Getafe, Rayo are safely settled in the midtable. Osasuna, who have conceded 11 goals in their last two games, are sixth.
Dejected Osasuna coach Jose Luis Mendilibar said: 'There is no explanation for this defeat. When a team comes out to play without desire or attitude then this is what happens. ... This cannot be repeated.'
Espanyol suffered a setback in their continental bid, held 2-2 at home by Real Sociedad, for whom Carlos Vela banged in a brace. Espanyol are joint seventh along with Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Espanyol, all of them one point below Osasuna.
Mauricio Pochettino, coach of Espanyol, said: 'I think a final result of 3-2 would have been fairer, but we just couldn't put away the third goal. We were just not lucky today.'
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