MADRID - Seydou Keita made the most of a
rare place in the starting line-up to give Barcelona a 1-0 win at
home to Real Zaragoza on Saturday that put the champions 10
points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
The Mali midfielder, making only his 10th league start for
Pep Guardiola's side this season, swept home a deflected Lionel
Messi cross in the 43rd minute at the Nou Camp to lift Barca to
74 points from 27 matches.
It was his fourth goal against Zaragoza in their last two
visits to the Catalan capital following his hat-trick against
the Aragonese club in a 6-1 home win in October 2009.
Zaragoza goalkeeper Toni Doblas made a string of brilliant
saves to prevent a bigger margin of victory for Barca, who
rested key players including David Villa, Andres Iniesta and
Sergio Busquets with an eye on Tuesday's Champions League
last-16, second leg at home to Arsenal.
"Now they [Real] have the pressure," Barca midfielder Xavi
"We dominated and kept the ball and we are on a good run,"
the Spain World Cup-winner added.
"Now we just need to wait for Real to slip up. It's more and
more difficult to win away from home."
In the earlier kick-off, Pablo Hernandez struck twice to give
third-placed Valencia a 2-1 comeback win at Real Mallorca that
put Unai Emery's side four points clear of Villarreal, who lost
3-1 at Atletico Madrid in the late game.
Former Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes, Argentina forward
Sergio Aguero and Uruguay striker Diego Forlan scored for the
Europa League champions to lift them to sixth and boost their
chances of a European berth next season.
Reyes set the Calderon alight with a cracking goal to give
Atletico a fifth-minute lead, curling the ball into the top
corner from 30 metres.
Giuseppe Rossi levelled for the visitors in the 34th before
Aguero used his strength to hold off his marker and send a
delicate lob over Diego Lopez to make it 2-1 in the 69th.
Forlan, who is having an indifferent season, ran on to a
Reyes pass to make the game safe three minutes later.
Mallorca's Ivan Ramis converted a dubious penalty shortly
after the half hour at their Iberostar stadium but the lead
lasted only two minutes before Pablo drove home from just
outside the area.
He then grabbed the winner for Unai Emery's side in the 56th
minute when he ran on to a Jonas Goncalves pass and beat Dudu
Aouate at his near post with an angled shot.
Mallorca, coached by former Denmark international Michael
Laudrup, are 10th on 34, while Zaragoza remained in 15th on 27
points just two points above the drop zone.
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