Barca go four points clear after destroying Celta 3-0

Reuters, MADRID

Thu, Oct 31, 2013 - Page 20

Barcelona followed up Saturday’s win over Real Madrid with another victory when Alexis Sanchez set the champions on their way to a 3-0 success at RC Celta de Vigo on Tuesday that put them four points clear at the top of La Liga.

Unbeaten Barca have 31 points from 11 matches, with second-placed Atletico Madrid on 27 ahead of their game in Granada today. Third-placed Real, who are five points behind Atletico, were to host Sevilla yesterday.

Barca coach Gerardo Martino rested several key players for the game at Balaidos, including Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Neymar, but the champions were still far too strong for the struggling Galician side.

In-form Alexis, who netted a brilliant chipped effort in the 2-1 Clasico victory against Real at the Camp Nou, grabbed the opener in the eighth minute.

Cesc Fabregas, who had a hand in all three Barca goals, stole the ball in Celta territory and when his low shot was saved by goalkeeper Yoel Rodriguez, Alexis was on hand to clip home the rebound.

Barca were 2-0 ahead three minutes after the break when a Fabregas snapshot from outside the area cannoned off the bar onto Yoel and ricocheted back into the net.

The former Arsenal captain put the game beyond the hosts in the 54th minute when Lionel Messi sent him clear on the left of the penalty area and he finished clinically into the corner.

Argentine FIFA World Player of the Year Messi had a relatively quiet night and failed to score for three straight La Liga matches for the first time in more than two years.

Celta, coached by former Barcelona midfielder Luis Enrique, came closest to a goal in the 67th when Nolito — a graduate of the Barca academy — crashed a free-kick against the bar.

Also on Tuesday, eighth-placed RCD Espanyol and strugglers Malaga, who are mired down in 15th, played out a 0-0 draw at the Estadio Cornella-El Prat in Barcelona.