Tue, Mar 17, 2009 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Bojan brace keeps Barcelona six clear

AFP , MADRID

Barcelona striker Lionel Messi shoots to score against Almeria goalkeeper Diego Alves in front of Almeria’s Santiago Acasiete during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Juegos Mediterraneos stadium in Almeria, Spain, on Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Forgotten striker Bojan Krkic scored his first league goals of the season as Barcelona restored their six-point advantage over Real Madrid at the top of the Spanish first division with a 2-0 win at Almeria on Sunday.

Coach Pep Guardiola chose to rest Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry, giving Bojan a rare start, and the 18-year-old seized his opportunity, scoring a second-half brace inside three minutes.

Even an inspirational game from Almeria’s Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Alves could not keep Barcelona and Bojan at bay as they continue their treble bid.

“He [Bojan] deserved to play as he was doing really well in training,” Guardiola said.

“I am delighted for him and we will need him as April is a terrible month for us in terms of games. Everyone will play their part. We would like to have a bigger lead than six points but we can’t do anything about that. We have had so many games recently that is has been difficult to train at times but we just have to keep on going,” Guardiola added.

Real had thrashed Bilbao 5-2 on Saturday to temporarily cut the gap to three points, and the pressure was on Barca to respond. The Catalan side had crushed Almeria 5-0 at Camp Nou earlier in the season, so the hosts wanted to give a better account of themselves while Mexican coach Hugo Sanchez, a former Real Madrid legend, wanted to do his old club a big favour.

Eto’o scored a hat-trick in the Almeria thrashing, but started on the bench as Guardiola decided some of his stars needed a rest with the Champions League quarter-finals to come.

Seydou Keita, Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were all thwarted by Alves in a goalless first half. However, the breakthrough arrived in the 53rd minute with Bojan following up after Messi had hit the post with a curling shot.

It was Bojan’s first league goal of the campaign and the second came three minutes later when he completed a wonderful team goal involving Dani Alves, Messi and Andres Iniesta.

Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid came from two goals down to defeat 10-man Villarreal 3-2 at the Vicente Calderon to pull themselves back into the Champions League race.

Goals from Diego Forlan, who also missed a penalty, and Antonio Lopez in the final ten minutes secured a crucial win for Atletico who are now two points behind fourth-placed Villarreal.

“It was impossible to have any more chances than we had in this match,” Atletico coach Abel Resino said. “Diego Lopez [the Villarreal goalkeeper] was fantastic for them, but I told the players to keep going and carry on playing like they were.”

If Atletico had lost, Villarreal would have been eight points clear of their rivals and they took a 2-0 lead through Matias Fernandez and Ruben Cani.

Sevilla’s faint hopes of challenging Real for second place looked to have ended after a 2-2 draw with Malaga left them nine points behind the champions. Luis Fabiano scored an 84th-minute equalizer to snatch a point for Sevilla who were 2-0 down against their Andalucian neighbors.

Spanish La Liga

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TOP top
 
Team
P
GD
Pts
1
Barcelona 
27
54
66
2
Real Madrid 
27
32
60
3
Sevilla 
27
13
51
4
Villarreal 
27
6
45
5
Atletico Madrid 
27
15
43
6
Malaga 
27
5
43
7
Deportivo La Coruna 
27
0
42
8
Valencia 
27
7
40
9
Valladolid 
27
-1
39
10
Racing Santander 
27
0
33
11
Sporting Gijon 
27
-22
33
12
Almeria 
27
-10
31
13
Athletic Bilbao 
27
-9