Lionel Messi scored two late goals on Saturday as leaders Barcelona won 3-0 away to Hercules, their 15th consecutive victory matching the La Liga record set by Real Madrid in the 1960-1961 season.
Promoted Hercules stunned the champions with a 2-0 win at the Camp Nou back in September, the only defeat Barca have suffered in the league this season, and they made life tough for the visitors until Pedro struck just before the break.
World player of the year Messi scored twice in as many minutes at the end after the hosts were reduced to 10 men following a second yellow card for Francisco Farinos in the 85th.
Barca moved on to 58 points from 21 games, pulling seven clear of second-placed Real Madrid who were due to visit lowly Osasuna yesterday.
“Scoring just before the break helped us a lot but 1-0 is always a dangerous scoreline, any lost ball can put you in danger. The red card for Farinos helped us a lot,” Barca coach Pep Guardiola told reporters.
It could have been a different story at the Rico Perez if David Trezeguet had been able to put away a good chance in the 20th minute, as Hercules unsettled the visiting defense.
Barca were knocked out of their stride until Xavi picked out Pedro in the area and the Spain forward thumped a shot inside the near post, scoring for a sixth consecutive league game.
They took the sting out of the encounter after the break, but were unable to settle the match until Farinos was sent off and Messi, who had had a poor game by his standards, skipped through to score in the 87th.
Two minutes later, Dani Alves crossed for the Argentine to tap in Barca’s third goal, taking his league tally for the season to 21 behind Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo on 22.
In the late game, Deportivo La Coruna’s Laure grabbed a hotly disputed late equalizer in a 3-3 draw at home against 10-man Sevilla.
The linesman’s flag was up when the full-back broke into the area to score, but the referee overruled him prompting heated and lengthy complaints from the visitors. Television replays showed Laure to be onside when he received the ball.
Lassad had put Depor ahead with a spectacular strike early in the first half and, after Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop had been sent off for handball outside the area in the 57th minute, he doubled the lead just past the hour.
Sevilla, who have a King’s Cup semi-final second leg at Real Madrid on Wednesday, stormed back to take the lead with a double from Alvaro Negredo either side of Julien Escude’s opportunist effort, but were denied the three points in the 88th.
Earlier, struggling Sporting Gijon and Real Zaragoza notched their first wins on the road this season to climb away from the foot of the standings.
Sporting’s steady improvement was confirmed with a third consecutive victory, beating Real Mallorca 4-0.
They climbed to 12th with 22 points from 21 games ahead of Hercules, Deportivo and 15th-placed Zaragoza on goal difference.
Javier Aguirre’s Zaragoza also claimed their third consecutive victory, Florent Sinama Pongolle completing a 2-1 comeback win at Malaga who are now bottom.
Levante, who started the weekend at the foot of the table, won 2-0 at home to Getafe while Real Sociedad sank Almeria 2-0. Levante now have 18 points with Almeria and Malaga on 17.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on
The Chicago Blackhawks and the Montreal Canadiens, with the fewest wins of any NHL playoff teams, ignited the rink returning from a COVID-19 hiatus with upset triumphs in Saturday openers. NHL Rookie of the Year candidate Dominik Kubalik inspired the Blackhawks to a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in game one of their best-of-five qualifying series at Edmonton, Alberta, scoring two goals and assisting on three others. “We were ready to go, and I think the game was pretty good,” Kubalik said. “I felt pretty good and everything went my way, so it’s nice, but it’s just the first game,