Lionel Messi puts Barcelona clear at the top after defeat of Mallorca
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 26 February 2011
Barça made light of the absences through injury of Xavi, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes, as David Villa and Pedro also scored to lift the champions to 68 points from 25 matches.
Mallorca's coach Michael Laudrup played for Barcelona with the Catalan club's current coach Pep Guardiola in the 1990s, and Barça had never beaten a La Liga team coached by the former Danish international, who also had a stint in charge at Getafe.
The teams drew 1-1 at Camp Noú in October, one of only three matches in which Barça have dropped points this term.
Laudrup's players closed down their opponents well in the early stages before Messi opened the scoring in the 38th minute.
Seydou Keita scooped the ball over the defence and Messi controlled it once with his head to take it away from the defender and without letting it bounce nodded it over Mallorca's goalkeeper Dudu Aouate into the net.
It was the Argentina international's 26th of the season in La Liga and puts him two clear of Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Sergio Busquets split the defence to send Villa clear to round Aouate for Barça's second in the 57th minute and Pedro cut in from the left and scored with a dipping shot to make it three in the 11 minutes later.
Barcelona are now unbeaten in their last 19 away matches, equalling a La Liga record set by Basque club Real Sociedad in the 1979-80 campaign.