Super-sub Messi boosts Barca

A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division with Barcelona one win away from the title.

Last Updated: 05/05/13 at 22:40 Post Comment

Lionel Messi slots home Barcelona's fourth goal

Lionel Messi slots home Barcelona's fourth goal

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A review of the weekend's action in the Spanish Primera Division.

Lionel Messi came off the bench to score twice as Barcelona avoided a major shock against Real Betis at the Nou Camp.

The Argentinian took his goals tally to 60 for the season after coming on as a substitute with his side being held 2-2 by the spirited visitors and facing a real threat to their 13-month unbeaten home record in La Liga.

While the Catalan faithful revelled in Messi's display, his 35-minute cameo did little to dispel the growing - if unfair - theory that Barca are a one-man team.

Certainly the hosts looked shaky before his introduction, with Betis twice taking the lead through Dorlan Pabon and Ruben Perez.

Alexis Sanchez hit Barcelona's first equaliser while David Villa's 56th-minute header for 2-2 was his final contribution before he was immediately hauled off for Messi.

Within minutes Messi curled home a wonderful free-kick to hand his side the lead for the first time and leave many in the Nou Camp shaking their heads in disbelief.

But Messi was not finished there and moments later was applying the finish to a sublime team move that secured the points and means Barcelona can be crowned champions before they next kick a ball in anger should nearest challengers Real Madrid fail to beat Malaga on Wednesday and Espanyol next Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo made it 199 goals for Real Madrid in less than four seasons as two towering headers helped earn an entertaining 4-3 win over Valladolid on Saturday.

The hosts bounced back from their Champions League elimination at the hands of Borussia Dortmund to keep the Primera Division title race alive for one more weekend at least.

The build-up to the match was dominated by the future of coach Jose Mourinho and his expected departure to Chelsea, but, should he leave, Ronaldo is one player he would certainly miss.

He helped the hosts recover from conceding an early goal to Oscar, making it 2-1 after Angel Di Maria had levelled.

Javi Guerra equalised before the break for the visitors, but second-half efforts from Kaka and Ronaldo looked to have got Madrid home and dry.

Sastre's brilliant volley got Valladolid a late third, but there was no dramatic equaliser.

On Sunday, Sevilla kept their dreams of Europa League football alive for next season with a convincing 3-0 win over Espanyol.

Joan Capdevila's own goal gave the home side an early lead with Andujar Coke and Alvaro Negredo scoring the second and third in the space of four minutes as Sevilla looked comfortable throughout their victory.

The result means Los Rojiblancos are now three points adrift of seventh-placed Real Betis, who occupy the last European berth, with four games remaining ahead of their match with Barcelona.

Espanyol remain in 11th place with nothing more than pride to play for in their remaining fixtures against Real Madrid and struggling Deportivo La Coruna.

Real Zaragoza recorded back-to-back Primera Division wins for the first time this season as Rayo Vallecano succumbed meekly at La Romareda in a 3-0 scoreline.

Apono hit a brace and Rodri was also on target as Zaragoza hauled themselves out of the relegation zone at the expense of Deportivo La Coruna.

Zaragoza ended a 15-match winless streak in the league with a dramatic 3-2 win over Real Mallorca last time out, and the momentum of that victory was much in evidence today as they comprehensively outplayed their top-10 ranked visitors.

Mallorca remain bottom of the Primera Division after only managing to draw 1-1 with Levante at home.

Tomer Hemed gave the Islanders a dream start by scoring inside seven minutes, but Robert Acquafresca equalised just before half-time.

Despite dominating possession and having 17 attempts on goal, Mallorca were unable to get a winner, which could have a huge impact on their chances of avoiding relegation.

On Saturday, Atletico Madrid ensured they will be playing Champions League football next season after playing out an uninspiring goalless draw with Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor.

No matter what happens in the final four games of the season, the Rojiblancos will at least finish the season in fourth spot in the Primera Division, entitling them to a play-off place in Europe's elite competition.

If they win two of their remaining games, they will be guaranteed third spot and earn an automatic berth in the tournament.

The Galicians did not show much ambition to win the game, but had three penalty appeals turned down, replays showing they should have at least been awarded one.

Valencia rolled over Osasuna 4-0 at the Mestalla to strike a blow to the visitors' hopes of avoiding relegation.

Two goals late in the first half from Roberto Soldado and Ricardo Costa gave the hosts a comfortable lead and the second half became a formality after Alejandro Arribas was sent off and Ever Banega scored from the resulting free-kick.

David Timor then also saw red and Jonas added to the visitors' pain by scoring a penalty in injury time.

A solitary goal by Odion Ighalo saw off Malaga and handed Granada a huge 1-0 win in their bid to avoid relegation from the Primera Division.

The Nigerian's goal midway through the first half took Lucas Alcaraz's side further clear of the drop zone and struck a blow to Malaga's already slim hopes of reclaiming fourth spot from Real Sociedad.

Iago Aspas netted a late equaliser to earn relegation-fighting Celta Vigo a deserved 1-1 draw from an entertaining clash with Athletic Bilbao.

The highly-rated forward slotted home seven minutes from time to cancel out Oscar De Marcos' opener for Athletic which came against the run of play just before half-time.


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