Barcelona score first win in scintillating style

September 22nd, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Sep 22 (DPA) Barcelona scored their first win in the Spanish Liga in scintillating style, thrashing bottom placed team Sporting Gijon 6-1 away.Lionel Messi led the rout with two goals, while Xavi Hernandez, Samuel Eto’o and Andres Iniesta scored, too, plus an own goal from Jorge Garcia.

Francisco Maldonado gave Gijon brief hope by making it 3-1, before local defender Gerard Autet was sent off - and the floodgates opened.

“It’s great to get our first win,” said a delighted Iniesta. “It’s also good to score a few goals, after having scored so few at the start of the season.”

The handsome rout takes Barca up to ninth, with four points from three games.

Newly promoted Gijon, who have no points and 11 goals against, will need to improve quickly if they wish to avoid a speedy return to the second division.

Earlier Sunday, Real Madrid won 2-0 in Santander, thanks to second-half goals from Ruben de la Red and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

As usual this season, Real did not play particularly well but were as sharp as always in front of goal.

Iker Casillas had to make two smart saves to deny Santander striker Jonathan Pereira at the end of a dull first half.

The defending champions came out for the second half with more aggression and purpose. De la Red gave them the lead in the 54th minute with a toe-poked shot, after Gonzalo Higuain had launched an incisive counterattack.

In the 74th minute, Van Nistelrooy made it 2-0 with a clever near- post drive, after skipping through a sluggish local defence.

“It was a difficult game,” said the Dutch veteran, “but we were clearly the better team in the second half.”

Real now have six points from three games and are in joint fifth position with neighbours Atletico Madrid, who Saturday thrashed Recreativo Huelva 4-0.

Above the Madrid teams are four teams, all bunched on seven points: Valencia (top on goal difference) Almeria, Villarreal and Espanyol.

Valencia, Almeria and Villarreal all enjoyed late wins Sunday. Valencia needed a goal just six minutes from time from star Juan Mata to break the resistance of dogged Osasuna, who were playing with 10 men due to the sending-off of defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

In the 83rd minute, David Villa sent a perfect through ball for Mata, who scored with a deft, left-footed volley.

Mata, just 20, is in such bright form that a Spain call-up could be close.

Fifteen minutes before his goal, the Real Madrid reject had come close to breaking the stalemate by hitting the Osasuna post with a sweet, left-footed shot.

“It was a lovely goal to score,” said Mata after what he called “a very tight game indeed.”

At home to Malaga, Almeria almost left it as late as Valencia. They won thanks to a classy goal 14 minutes from time from Alvaro Negredo, another youngster released by Real Madrid - and another one knocking on the Spain door.

Villarreal, meanwhile, were coming from behind to win 2-1 at newly promoted Numancia. Gorka Brit had headed Numancia ahead in the 43rd minute.

Just four minutes into the second half, though, Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla levelled for Villarreal, and in the 76th minute Joseba Etxeberria hit the winner for the “Yellow Submarine” after a slick counterattack.

Sevilla are seventh on five points after a tense goalless draw against crosstown rivals Betis.

Barca are now ninth after their romp in Gijon, which has ended their worst start since 1973.

Earlier Sunday, Athletic Bilbao had moved up to 10th with a 2-0 defeat of Valladolid.

Sunday’s other game was a 0-0 draw between Deportivo Coruna and Mallorca.

The fourth round of Liga matches will be played Wednesday and Thursday, with Real taking on hapless Gijon and Barca facing Betis.

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