Iniesta on song as Barcelona shine
Andres Iniesta twice set up Lionel Messi, created a goal for Cesc Fabregas and netted a brilliant effort of his own as La Liga leaders Barcelona extended their near-perfect start with a thumping 4-0 win at Levante last night.
The Spain playmakers masterful performance at Levante’s Ciutat de Valencia stadium helped maintain unbeaten Barca’s three-point lead over Atletico Madrid, who earlier crushed nine-man Sevilla 4-0.
Barca’s victory, their 12th in 13 matches, put them 11 points clear of third-placed champions Real Madrid after their arch-rivals were upset 1-0 at Real Betis on Saturday.
An almost impeccable performance was crowned when Victor Valdes saved Jose Javier Berkero’s late penalty.
Barca have 37 points with Atletico on 34 and Real on 26. Malaga are fourth on 22 points after they thrashed Valencia 4-0 on Saturday, ahead of Betis on goal difference and and points two ahead of Levante in sixth.
Messi’s 18th and 19th league goals of the campaign put the Argentine World Player of the Year within three of the record for the most goals in a calendar year of 85 set by German Gerd Mueller 40 years ago.
Atletico, who visit city rivals Real next weekend, strolled to victory at the Calderon after Sevilla’s Argentine centre back Federico Fazio was dismissed for tripping Koke in the penalty area in the 20th minute.
Colombia striker Radamel Falcao smashed his spot-kick into the roof of the net before Arda Turans cross was turned into his own goal by Emir Spahic in the 40th minute and Koke clipped Diego Costa’s volleyed centre into the net four minutes later.
Sevilla’s Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic was shown a second yellow card and sent off seven minutes from time and Brazilian defender Miranda netted Atletico’s fourth in the second minute of added time.
Athletic Bilbao squandered a chance to get their erratic season back on track when they surrendered the lead and were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Deportivo La Coruna.
Oscar de Marcos fired the Basques ahead in the 24th minute and Abel Aguilar headed an equaliser for Depor seven minutes after the break.