Barcelona Cruise Through Deportivo Test
Lionel Messi scored a stunning freekick and helped set up two more goals as Barcelona swept hosts Deportivo Coruna aside 4-0 to surge five points clear at the top of La Liga on Saturday. The Argentine World Player of the Year, who is up against team mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta for the FIFA Ballon d’Or on Monday, swept in a freekick in the 51st minute, having already set up striker David Villa for the opener.
Iniesta made it 3-0 in the 80th and almost immediately Messi’s driving run led to the ball breaking to Pedro, who lifted the ball into the net for the fourth. The champions maintained their perfect away record in La Liga to move on to 49 points from 18 games, putting the pressure on chasing Real Madrid, who host third-placed Villarreal at the Bernabeu on Sunday. Barca extended their unbeaten streak to 26 matches in all competitions but Spain striker Villa preached caution.
We may be on a good run but we have a team like Real Madrid pushing close behind us,” he told Spanish television. “There is still a long way to go.” Villa raced on to Messi’s pass after 26 minutes and squeezed his shot under Daniel Aranzubia to put Barca ahead. Messi claimed his 18th goal of the campaign with a freekick which curled round the wall and into the top corner after the re-start, and Iniesta killed off the game, running across the edge of the area before firing inside the far post.
After Pedro’s cool finish, Messi almost grabbed a second but Aranzubia did just enough to deflect his shot wide. Asked who would win the Ballon d’Or, which will be awarded for the world’s best player on Monday, Villa said: “In the dressing room the general opinion is that it doesn’t matter. For us, it is good enough that the winner is already among us.