Barcelona win easy in La Liga, Real maintain 10-point lead

February 20th, 2012 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Cesc Fabregas Madrid, Feb 20 (IANS) Real Madrid maintained their 10-point lead over FC Barcelona after the 23rd round Spanish La Liga football Sunday when Catalan giants defeated Valencia.

Real Madrid cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win at home to relegation haunted Racing Santander Saturday, while Lionel Messi scored four goals to see Barca home to a 5-1 victory against third-placed Valencia.

Madrid never looked in danger against Racing and opened the scoring with a Cristiano Ronaldo header in the sixth minute. Racing were reduced to 10 men with 50 minutes to go after Jonathan Cisma was given a harsh second yellow card for handball and Karim Benzema doubled Madrid’s lead with the last kick of the first half.

The second half was dull affair, enlivened only by a cameo performance from Angel di Maria, who added a third with an excellent curling shot, and Benzema, who made it 4-0 in the closing minutes.

If Madrid maintained their lead, there was only one candidate for the player of the week as Messi scored the first four of his side’s goals against Valencia.

Barcelona meanwhile suffered the shock of conceding an early goal to Pablo Piatti, but then produced one of their best displays of the season with Messi and Cesc Fabregas in outstanding form.

Messi scored twice in the first half to give Barca the lead and had it not been for the woodwork and a fine shot-stopping keeper from Valencia keeper, Diego Alves, the winning margin would have been greater.

Messi completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes remaining and scored his fourth goal of the game with five minutes remaining.

Xavi Hernandez, who returned after a muscle injury, rounded off the scoring in injury time.

The most entertaining game of the weekend saw Rayo Vallecano win 5-3 away to Levante.

Real Sociedad scored an early goal against Granada through Mikel Gonzalez, but were then well beaten 1-4 by Granada.

Michel Gonzalez enjoyed a 2-0 win against Osasuna on his home debut as Sevilla coach thanks to goals from Gary Medel and Pitor Trochovski, while Getafe and Espanyol drew 1-1.

Athletic Bilbao survived a first half battering at home to Malaga to win 3-0 in San Mames.

Athletic move fifth, leapfrogging Atletico Madrid, who could only draw 1-1 away to Sporting Gijon on Javier Clemente’s debut as home coach.

Villarreal’s recent revival came to an abrupt halt with a 4-0 defeat in Mallorca with Victor Castano scoring twice for the home side.

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