Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Messi Crushes Valencia 5 -1

Coming off an unexpected loss last weekend to Osasuna and a mid-week 3 - 1 triumph over Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League competition, this week FC Barcelona came roaring back to their championship form in a 5 - 1 rout of Valencia, in which Lionel Messi scored no less than four goals. 

As reported in The Hindu:

"Lionel Messi scored four goals to inspire Barcelona to a 5-1 victory over Valencia on Sunday in the Spanish League, but the champion still remains 10 points behind leader Real Madrid.

Messi, playing his 200th game for the club, took his league goals tally to 27 for the season and 42 in all competitions although third-placed Valencia had stunned the Spanish and European champion by taking a shock early lead.

“The most important thing was that the team played like we did against Bayer Leverkuson in the Champions League in midweek when we won 3-1,” said Messi after his Camp Nou master class.

“There are lots of crucial challenges ahead and it's necessary to keep going like this.”

The pressure was on the Catalan side after defeat last weekend away to Osasuna and it got off to a poor start with Pablo Piatti giving Valencia the lead after nine minutes.

Martin Montoya, in the side with Dani Alves suspended, and Gerard Pique left Piatti unmarked and keeper Victor Valdes came and failed to reach a Sofiane Feghouli cross allowing the diminutive striker to tuck the ball in.

The home fans were becoming restless but Messi responded once again when his side needed him most with two goals in five minutes.

Adil Rami failed to clear a cross and Messi coolly finished from a tight angle.

The Argentine then got ahead of the Valencia defence to meet an Eric Abidal cross and while the keeper Diego Alves saved his initial shot, he was able to sweep in the rebound.

Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas were both denied by Alves while the former Arsenal player then hit the woodwork with an acrobatic effort.

The home side continued to push forward after the break with Alves stopping a Messi header with a wonderful save and Fabregas badly miscued before Messi gave Barca a cushion by firing in a rebound after another Alves block.

Messi completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes to go and then notched up his 42nd goal of the season after running clear of the defence and clipping the ball over the keeper.

With the Valencia defence in disarray substitute Xavi Hernandez lobbed the ball over the keeper for the fifth in injury time.

Despite the rout, Barcelona is still struggling to retain its title after Real Madrid had swept past Racing Santander 4-0 on Saturday.