Messi double puts Barcelona back on track

Messi double puts Barcelona back on track

Lionel Messi scored twice to help Barcelona shake off the disappointment of their midweek Champions League semi-final exit with a 4-1 victory at Villarreal in La Liga.

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By (Reuters)

Published: Sun 2 May 2010, 2:43 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:22 AM

Any thoughts that tired limbs or damaged morale might affect the defence of their league title were misplaced as Messi, Xavi and Bojan Krkic netted in the first half at the Madrigal.

The Argentine World Player of the Year then bagged his second goal near the end to take his league tally for the season to 29 after Joseba Llorente had pulled one back for the hosts.

Barca have 90 points with three matches left, four ahead of Real Madrid who play Osasuna at the Bernabeu on Sunday. Villarreal stay sixth on 52 points. Earlier, Nikola Zigic scored twice to lead Valencia to a 2-0 victory at Espanyol that strengthened their hold on third place and Spain’s last automatic Champions League qualification slot.

The towering Serbia striker, who will be playing at the World Cup in June, replaced David Villa early in the second half and changed the course of the game by netting twice from Vicente crosses in the 61st and 74th minutes.

Valencia have 65 points, nine ahead of fourth-placed Real Mallorca who visit Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Mario Bermejo headed a last-gasp winner for Xerez to earn the basement club a dramatic 2-1 victory at home to Almeria that kept alive their hopes of avoiding relegation.

Television replays showed the Xerez striker was offside when he scored in the 93rd minute to set off wild celebrations around the stadium, and scuffles between the rival players as the final whistle blew straight after.

The top-flight debutants played the whole of the second-half with 10 men and in an increasingly desperate atmosphere Almeria also had a player sent off in the closing stages.

Xerez stay bottom on 30 points but closed to within five of 17th-placed Malaga and safety.

Felipe Caicedo grabbed a late equaliser to keep Malaga out of the bottom three with a 1-1 draw at home to Sporting Gijon but they are now level on 35 points with 18th-placed Tenerife.

The islanders, who have an inferior head-to-head record, were 2-1 winners over Racing Santander and moved above Real Valladolid (33 points) who drew 0-0 at home to Getafe.

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