Dhaka, Wed, Mar 2018
27 April 2017,Thursday, 10:54
Madrid, Apr 27, AP
While Lionel Messi helped Barcelona to trounce Osasuna 7-1, Cristiano Ronaldo was rested by title rival Real Madrid in its 6-2 rout of Deportivo La Coruna in the Spanish league on Wednesday.
Barcelona and Madrid remain level on 78 points at the top of the standings after their comfortable victories, keeping the title race wide open.
Barcelona is ahead on the head-to-head tiebreaker, but the two-time defending champion only has four games left, while Madrid — seeking its first league title since 2012 — has five to play.
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane rested Ronaldo and several other regular starters in La Coruna, with a great performance by Francisco "Isco" Alarcon and two goals by James Rodriguez helping the team to victory.
At the Camp Nou, Messi followed up his remarkable performance in the "clasico" against Madrid with another two goals on Wednesday. Andre Gomes and Paco Alcacer also scored twice for Barcelona, and Javier Mascherano netted his first goal with the Catalan club to complete the rout.
Messi's second goal at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday was a last-minute winner that gave him 500 career goals with Barcelona, and he was honored for the milestone before the Osasuna game, with a huge banner displayed on the stands with the words "Thank you Leo."
"With Messi, everything is easier," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said.
Messi opened the scoring with a lob over the goalkeeper after breaking free from his markers and surging into the area with only goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu to beat. He neatly headed the ball down before unleashing his 12th-minute strike.
Messi, who has scored 16 goals in his last 11 league games, netted his second with a well-placed left-foot shot from just outside the area in the 61st, two minutes before being substituted to a standing ovation by the crowd at the Camp Nou.
It was the 11th time this season that Messi had scored two goals in a league game.
"We all know about Messi's quality, about what he can add to the team," Alcacer said. "It's a great joy to be able to play alongside him. He is a unique player and few have the honor to say that they played with him."
Messi has scored twice in the last five games in which he has found the net. He is the league's leading scorer with 33 goals, nine more than teammate Luis Suarez and 14 more than Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Gomes scored in the 30th and 57th minutes, and Alcacer netted in the 64th and 86th. Defender Mascherano, who had yet to score after 318 matches with Barcelona, was allowed to end his drought by taking a 67th-minute penalty kick.
Suarez was rested by coach Luis Enrique in Wednesday's game. Neymar couldn't play because of a suspension.
Osasuna, which was mathematically relegated with the loss, played in orange-colored shirts made specifically for the match, as its other shirts were too similar to Barcelona's outfit.
Roberto Torres scored the team's lone goal from a 48th-minute free kick.
DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA 2, REAL MADRID 6
Madrid was in control from the start against relegation-threatened Deportivo in La Coruna, taking the lead through Alvaro Morata in the first minute.
Rodriguez scored in the 14th and 66th minutes, Lucas Vazquez added in the 44th, Francisco "Isco" Alarcon netted in the 77th and Casemiro rounded off the scoring in the 87th.
The hosts scored with Florin Andone in the 35th and Joselu in the 84th.
"It was a very complete game by the whole team," Isco said. "One of the great things about a club like Madrid is that it has 23 players who can be starters."
Deportivo, which has lost eight straight games to Madrid, including the last four at home, stayed 16th in the 20-team standings, only seven points from the relegation zone.
Zidane was without the injured Gareth Bale and the suspended Sergio Ramos. He rested Ronaldo, Keylor Navas, Karim Benzema, Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
Madrid faces city rival Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals next week.
LEGANES 3, LAS PALMAS 0
Brazilian striker Luciano Neves scored two goals early in the second half and Leganes comfortably defeated Las Palmas to go six points clear of the relegation zone.
The promoted club had lost four in a row and hadn't won in seven matches.
VALENCIA 2, REAL SOCIEDAD 3
Real Sociedad moved into position to qualify for the Europa League with the away victory over Valencia.
Valencia scored through Nani in the 68th minute and Simone Zaza in the 72nd, but Real Sociedad held on to move two points in front of seventh-place Athletic Bilbao.
Athletic hosts Real Betis on Thursday.
The teams in fifth and sixth places qualify for the Europa League.
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