Majestic Barcelona stay six points clear of Real Madrid

March 23rd, 2009 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Thierry Henry Madrid, March 23 (DPA) Majestic Barcelona turned on the style by slaughtering hapless Malaga 6-0 at home, with two goals from league top scorer Samuel Eto’o.
Their third successive win Sunday proves that Barca have completely overcome their February slump - and keeps them six points ahead of Real Madrid, who beat Almeria 3-0 earlier Sunday.

The twin giants both won in their trademark fashions: Barca with a delicious display of exquisite football, Real with determination and power in both penalty areas.

Xavi began the Barca rout by making it 1-0 after 19 minutes with his left foot, after being set up by Eto’o. Six minutes later Lionel Messi made it 2-0 with a right-foot drive, after one of his hallmark slaloms from the right.

Xavi set up Thierry Henry for the third goal, in the 33rd minute, then Eto’o made it 4-0 just before half-time.

The game continued to be one-way after the break, and Daniel Alves headed in the fifth goal on a perfect centre from Andres Iniesta.

Eto’o completed the rout in the 57th minute, on an unselfish pass from Henry. The Cameroon striker is top of the scorers’ chart with 25 goals. Barca have now scored 84 goals, and are keen to beat Real’s record of 107 in 1989/90 season.

The only sour note in the Camp Nou was that midfielders Yaya Toure, Andres Iniesta and Xavi all limped off with muscle injuries, and will be doubtful for the upcoming international matches.

Earlier Sunday, a solid rather than spectacular Real had few problems in beating Almeria 3-0.

Star of the show in the Estadio Bernabeu was Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who scored two second-half goals, bringing his total to five in three games.

Real made a dull start but went ahead in the 24th minute, against the run of play, when Marcelo scored with his supposedly weaker right foot.

Huntelaar took centre stage after the interval. He made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute with a left-foot volley, then tapped in the rebound 13 minutes later after Almeria keeper Diego Alves had denied Arjen Robben.

Real are nine points above third-placed Sevilla, who hammered Valladolid 4-1 Saturday. Six points behind Sevilla, in fourth place, are Villarreal, 2-0 winners over Athletic Bilbao Saturday.

In joint fifth place, five points behind Villarreal, are Atletico Madrid and Valencia.

Atletico crashed 2-0 away to Mallorca in Sunday’s late match, with Aritz Aduriz and Gonzalo Castro scoring for the islanders.

Valencia, for their part, scored their first win for two months, 1-0 away to Racing Santander - despite their many injuries and despite the harsh sending-off of defender Alexis.

Supersub Juan Mata scored the only goal just 13 minutes from time. Santander were awarded an injury-time penalty, but Oscar Serrano blasted his spot-kick against the crossbar.

This was the first time that Valencia had managed to keep a clean sheet since November. The fortunate win keeps alive their slim hopes of snatching a Champions League place.

Sunday’s other early games all had relegation importance. Betis battled out a 1-1 draw in La Coruna, Osasuna beat Espanyol 1-0, Numancia overcame Sporting Gijon 2-1, Getafe came from behind to beat Recreativo Huelva 2-1.

The defeat in Pamplona leaves 2007 UEFA Cup finalists Espanyol adrift at the bottom, four points below Espanyol and seven below Osasuna.

Betis and Huelva are now just one point above Osasuna, then come Bilbao, Getafe and Almeria.

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