A Xavi free-kick and an
exquisite lob from Lionel Messi fired Barcelona to a 2-0 win at
Sevilla that cut Real Madrid's lead at the top of La Liga back
to seven points on Saturday.
Xavi curled a shot over wall after 18 minutes and World
Player of the Year Messi bagged his 31st of the league campaign
The Argentine started the move deep in midfield playing a
one-two with Andres Iniesta, he nutmegged a defender as he
skipped into the area, and calmly lifted the ball over the
advancing Andres Palop.
Having carved a host of first-half chances, however, Barca
spent much of the second period pegged back as both goalkeepers
Palop and Victor Valdes made top-class saves.
The champions held firm and moved on to 63 points from 27
"We played very well in the first half and we scored two
goals and could have got more, but the second half was a
different story," Pique told Spanish television.
"We have done our job now we need to see what happens
tomorrow. At least they [Real] go out knowing we are there
behind them and we are still in the fight."
FORGET ABOUT LEAGUE
Barca coach Pep Guardiola sounded a more pessimistic note
when he was asked about the side's chances of catching Real to
win their fourth consecutive league crown.
"You should forget about this league, we aren't going to win
it," he told reporters.
"If there is one thing about this team, it is that it is
competitive, but there is another team that has achieved better
results than us."
Both sides came out at the start of the match wearing shirts
in support of Barcelona's French defender Eric Abidal, who found
out he needed a liver transplant during the week.
When asked about Abidal Barca's Argentine defender Javier
Mascherano told Spanish television: "I don't like to mix
football with things that happen off the pitch, but if the
victory serves to give him a lift, all well and good."
Osasuna climbed to fifth with 29 points after grabbing a
late equaliser to draw 1-1 at basement side Real Zaragoza.
Portugal striker Helder Postiga had struck from outside the
area to give Zaragoza the lead with five minutes to go but three
minutes later Osasuna defender Roversio headed in from a corner.
Rayo Vallecano climbed to eighth with 37 points after
beating another promoted club Real Betis 3-0 in the late game,
with second-half goals from Emiliano Armenteros, Diego Costa and
Zaragoza stayed 20th with 19 points, eight short of safety
and five behind 19th-placed Sporting Gijon.
Sporting, whose 62-year-old coach Javier Clemente was
celebrating his 500th game in La Liga, lost 2-1 at fellow
strugglers Granada to first-half strikes from Carlos Martins and
Real Sociedad's Inigo Martinez put the ball in his own net
to give Getafe a 1-0 home win.
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