El "Clásico" triumph puts Barça in the box seat
'El Clásico' triumph puts Barça in the box seat
FC Barcelona completed the double over Real Madrid CF in the latest instalment of 'El Clásico' with a 2-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabéu that gives the Spanish titleholders a three-point cushion at the top of the Liga.
Having laid down a marker in their UEFA Champions League defence with a comprehensive quarter-final victory over Arsenal FC in midweek, Barça's next task was to show similar intent in the league. It was man of the moment Lionel Messi who set the wheels in motion on 33 minutes, the Argentinian collecting Xavier Hernández's delightful pass with his chest before cutting inside Raúl Albiol and poking past Iker Casillas for his 40th goal of the campaign.
Xabi Alonso and Messi's international team-mate Gonzalo Higuaín spurned Madrid's best openings of the first half, and they were soon made to pay after the interval. The second period was 11 minutes old when Pedro Rodríguez benefitted from another perfect Xavi pass and stroked past the advancing Casillas. The home goalkeeper produced two fine saves to prevent Messi salting Real's wounds, but it was still very much Barcelona's evening as they inflicted a first home league defeat of the season on their hosts.
Sevilla FC had earlier enhanced their claims for a top-four finish with a 2-1 victory at Málaga CF. It was not all plain sailing for the Andalusian side, though, Felipe Caicedo putting Málaga in front on 15 minutes. Sevilla had to wait for the midway point in the second half for Juan Cala to equalise and it was not until five minutes from time that Lolo struck the winner.
At the other end of the table, bottom-placed Xerez CD are seven points adrift of safety having lost 1-0 at home to Getafe CF, who ended the game with ten men. Just two points better off than Xerez are Real Valladolid CF, who drew 0-0 at CD Tenerife, while Villarreal CF are sixth having beaten Real Sporting de Gijón 1-0 thanks to Diego Godín's 16th-minute goal.
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