Spanish La Liga: Real stay top


BARCELONA blasted Almeria 8-0 to match their biggest ever away win but remained second in La Liga behind Real Madrid who thrashed Athletic Bilbao 5-1 on Saturday night.

World Player of the Year Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick for Barca, taking his tally for the season to 13, while substitute Bojan Krkic scored twice, Andres Iniesta and Pedro bagged one apiece and Santiago Acasiete netted an own goal.

Barcelona’s biggest away win since they hammered Las Palmas by the same scoreline in 1959 led to struggling Almeria sacking their coach Juan Manuel Lillo soon after the match.

Jose Mourinho was watching from the stands at the Bernabeu, completing his two-match touchline ban as La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo also bagged a hat-trick to move on to 14 goals, while Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Ramos also netted to ensure Mourinho’s side maintained their one-point advantage at the top. With nine days to go until unbeaten Real visit the Nou Camp the Madrid side have 32 points from 12 matches.

Barca have 31 points and have opened up a seven-point lead over third-placed Villarreal who drew 1-1 at home with local rivals Valencia.

Villarreal’s Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi equalised in the 73rd minute to cancel out Aritz Aduriz’s 21st-minute opener. Mallorca defeated Seville 2-1 away yesterday.