Sunday, December 6, 2009

Messi upstages drama-prone Madrid

lionel messi barcelona
Having won the Ballon d'Or on Tuesday, Lionel Messi struck twice at RC Deportivo La Coruña as FC Barcelona cemented their place at the top of the Liga with a 3-1 win on a night which also brought drama for Real Madrid CF.

Messi double
Messi produced a typically assured finish 27 minutes into the late game in Spain, slipping past Manuel Pablo to fire low into the left of the net, but Barcelona's defending was nothing like as slick as they squandered their lead before the break. A misplaced header from Sergio Busquets gifted Adrián López a sight of goal, with Víctor Valdés taking some of the blame for allowing the striker's header to get past him. Barcelona dominated, but it took until the 79th minute for Messi to make that pressure tell, with a slick move ending with Pedro Rodríguez crossing for the unmarked Argentinian to head the winner. Zlatan Ibrahimović then made it 3-1 with a cool strike two minutes from time.

Ping-pong affair
Madrid had earlier got out of jail with a 4-2 win against UD Almería. Los Merengues looked set for a comfortable night when Sergio Ramos headed them into a 30th-minute lead, but the game was turned on its head after the break, with Fernando Soriano finding the net with the help of a deflection off Raúl Albiol before Kalu Uche made it 2-1 with a powerful shot following a corner. Gonzalo Higuaín equalised after defender Santiago Acasiete failed to clear Marcelo's cross, and the game was wrapped up eight minutes from the end, Karim Benzema finishing after Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty was saved. The Portuguese winger soon atoned, though he would have struggled to miss after Higuaín's ball left him an easy finish to make it 4-2. However, his night ended badly as he was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Sevilla slip
The win was doubly valuable to Madrid with third-placed Sevilla FC having dropped two points at home in one of the day's two early games. Sevilla equalised from the spot through Luis Fabiano after Manucho had given Real Valladolid CF the lead at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium, but there were no further goals after the interval. Elsewhere, Club Atlético de Madrid won 2-0 at Xerez CD, with Diego Forlán and Sergio Agüero the scorers.

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