Barcelona beats Madrid 2-0 to lead Spanish league
Lionel Messi scored and defending champion Barcelona beat Real
Madrid 2-0 to take a three-point lead in the Spanish league race
with its fourth straight victory in the rivalry.
Messi, coming off a four-goal performance in the Champions
League, put Barcelona ahead after 33 minutes by sending a shot past
goalkeeper Iker Casillas for his 40th goal of the season.
Xavi Hernandez, who set up Messi for the opener, turned
playmaker again in the 56th as he sent Pedro Rodriguez free on
Casillas to curl a left-footed shot past the goalkeeper.
Barcelona won consecutive games at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium for
the first time in its history to lead with 80 points and seven
games to play.
“The fact is that we came to the leader’s stadium and won,”
said coach Pep Guardiola, who has led Barcelona to its longest
winning streak against Madrid. “We won a very serious game,
showing a lot of calm.”
Barcelona won 1-0 at the Camp Nou in December.
Messi again outshone Cristiano Ronaldo in a matchup of two of
the best players in the world.
“Barca is superior to Real Madrid, that’s what’s important,”
Messi said after scoring his seventh career goal against Madrid,
while Ronaldo remained scoreless in five meetings. “These are
three important points since we’re leaders again.”
Messi picked himself up from a tackle to gather possession and
feed Xavi, who floated a pass right back to him as he burst into
the area. Messi controlled with his chest to move across and use
his right foot to send the ball between Casillas and defender Raul
Albiol to score.
Messi, who scored four times against Arsenal lead Barcelona to
the Champions League semifinals, leads the league with 27
Pedro doubled the lead with a well-timed run that came moments
after Ronaldo tested Victor Valdes for the first time. The Portugal
forward failed to penetrate from the left wing throughout and
Madrid never looked capable of coming back after Valdes saved
Rafael Van der Vaart’s 57th-minute chance.
“I feel a mix of everything but mostly frustration and
impotence,” Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini said. “Barca wasn’t
the team we recognized from other games. We had the right to
threaten goal more often.”