Mon, Nov 05, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Real thrash Zaragoza as Barca go three points clear

AFP, MADRID

Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi, left, holds the European Golden Boot 2012 award for best European goalscorer of the 2011 to 2012 season as his teammate Xavi Hernandez holds the 2012 Prince of Asturias Prize for Sport at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Real Madrid beat Real Zaragoza 4-0 on Saturday, but remain eight points behind record breaking Barcelona who earlier won 3-1 against RC Celta de Vigo to go three points ahead of the pack.

Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Maria struck in a two minute blitz midway through the first half while Michael Essien and Luka Modric added another two late on, but despite their recent good form it will be difficult to claw back the Catalan side, who have made their best start to a season.

Barcelona now have nine wins and a draw which beats their previous record by Louis van Gaal’s 1997-1998 side.

The Catalan club also gained a boost when second-placed Atletico Madrid suffered their first defeat of the season as goals from Roberto Soldado and Nelson Valdez gave Valencia a 2-0 win, leaving Barca three points clear.

Madrid’s defensive problems eased with the return of Alvaro Arbeloa who came in on the left of defence with Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao both still injured.

It freed up Michael Essien to move back into midfield where Madrid were without Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira, suspended and injured respectively.

Zaragoza arrived at the Bernabeu with confidence restored after back-to-back wins and they made it difficult for Madrid with their organization.

Madrid got their opening breakthrough out of the blue from a corner. Raul Albiol leapt to power a header which Roberto got down well to save, but Higuain smashed in the rebound.

Zaragoza fell further behind as Di Maria had an effort from a tight angle saved by the keeper, but he then cracked in the rebound.

The visitors came out for the second half with more attacking intent, though they were mainly reduced to shots from distance and came closest to scoring with a drive by Jose Mari from 25 yards that crashed against the crossbar, but Ronaldo also hit the woodwork for Madrid with a late free-kick.

Essien and Modric added gloss to the result with goals in the 88th and 91st minutes.

Earlier, Adriano Correia put Barca ahead against Celta after 21 minutes and while Mario Bermejo momentarily brought the visitors level minutes later, David Villa quickly restored the lead while Jordi Alba secured the win in the second half.

Ahead of the game Lionel Messi showed off his Golden Boot trophy that he was presented this week after scoring 73 goals last season, while he was also the focus following the birth of his first child, Thiago, on Friday.

Barca were still without Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol at center half and this time Sergio Busquets was chosen to play alongside Javier Mascherano.

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