MESSI REACHES 82 GOALS AS BARCA SET AN 11 POINT GAP WITH REAL MADRID



Barcelona’s Lionel Messi
from Argentina, center,
shoots to score pass
Levante’s goalkeeper
Gustabo Adolfo Munua from
Uruguay, right, during their
la liga soccer match at the
Ciutat Valencia stadium in
Valencia, Spain, Sunday,
Nov. 25, 2012. (Alberto
Saiz /AP)
Lionel Messi struck twice as
Barcelona won 4-0 at
Levante on Sunday to
remain three points clear of
Atletico Madrid at the top of
La Liga.
Messi’s goals were both
laid on by Andres Iniesta
who also hit the target
himself before supplying
Cesc Fabregas for the
fourth.
The Argentine’s brace
means he now has 82 goals
in 2012, just six short of
German legend Gerd
Mueller’s all-time calendar
record set in 1972.
He also tops the La Liga
charts for the season with
19 goals.
Atletico had earlier beaten
Sevilla 4-0 to keep pace at
the top and go eight points
ahead of city rivals Real
Madrid in third who had lost
1-0 at Betis on Saturday.
Barca had struggled in the
first half and their cause
was not helped by losing
Dani Alves after only 13
minutes with what appeared
to be a recurrence of a
recent hamstring injury.
When his replacement
Martin Montoya took the
pitch it meant Barca’s full
side had also starred for
the club at youth level.
Jose Maria Barkero had the
best chance of the opening
exchanges for Levante,
drawing Barca goalkeeper
Victor Valdes into a save
with a 12th-minute drive.
Barca took 10 minutes to
react, Messi hitting a low
shot that missed just wide
right, a minute before Xavi
Hernandez hit a similar
drive that went to the left.
The Catalans’ intricate
build-up play was
comfortably contained by
solid defending from the
home team in a tight first
period.
Levante, in the meantime,
looked dangerous on the
counter-attack and Obafemi
Martins narrowly glanced a
header wide just before
half-time.
However, Barca finally
found a way through just
after the break and it was
from a perfectly threaded
pass from Iniesta that
allowed Messi to coolly slot
home.
Five minutes later, Iniesta
was the provider again, the
little midfielder pulling back
the ball for Messi to double
the lead.
Another five minutes had
passed before Iniesta
buried Levante’s challenge
for good with a drive from
the edge of the area.
The fourth came on 63
minutes, this time Fabregas
was given the simple task
of finishing off another
Iniesta pass.
Barca had solved what had
at first seemed a difficult
task with four goals in 18
second-half minutes and
for Levante there was no
way back.
Valdes made matters worse
for the home side making a
double save from a
Barkero penalty in the
dying minutes after Carles
Puyol had handled in the
area.
For Atletico, Radamel
Falcao, Arda Turan and
Koke got first-half goals
and Miranda one in the last
minute to make it seven
straight home wins in the
league against a Sevilla
side that played with only
10 men from the 22th
minute and finished with
nine.
Atletico made a
breakthrough on 19
minutes when Koke was
pulled down by Federico
Fazio, who received a
straight red.
Falcao smashed the penalty
straight down the middle of
the goal for his 11th league
goal of the season and
Sevilla were facing more
than an hour of play with
ten men.
On 38 minutes, Turan
doubled the home side’s
lead when Falcao received
a defensive clearance and
broke at speed before
releasing the Turkish
winger, who hit a shot that
caught a slight deflection of
Spahic on the way to goal.
On the stroke of half-time,
Koke stroked home a Diego
Costa cross for the third.
It was one way traffic in the
second period but Sevilla
held firm for most of it,
despite losing Ivan Rakitic
to a second yellow card on
83 minutes, before Miranda
hit the fourth from close
range in injury time.
Also on Sunday, Athletic
Bilbao and Deportivo La
Coruna shared the points in
a 1-1 draw in the San
Mames stadium.
Oscar de Marcos put the
home side ahead on 24
minutes when he converted
a Markel Susaeta cross,
but against the run of play
Abel Aguilar hit an equaliser
early in the second-half to
earn Deportivo a point and
move his side out of the
relegation zone.
Getafe won 2-0 at Espanyol
to keep the Barcelona side
bottom of the table, two
points behind Deportivo.
Pedro Leon put Getafe
ahead on 15 minutes before
Mane doubled the lead in
the last minute.

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