MADRID: A Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona tightened their grip on the La Liga title race with a comprehensive 4-0 win at Eibar on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid stayed eight points back of Barca with 10 games remaining as Fernando Torres came off the bench to score in a 3-1 win at Gary Neville’s Valencia.
Munir El Haddadi tapped home the opener from Luis Suarez’s cross before Messi doubled Barca’s advantage with a brilliant individual effort just before half-time.
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Messi doubled his tally from the penalty spot before Suarez lashed home the fourth six minutes from time.
Barca’s 11th consecutive league win also stretches their record unbeaten run to 36 games.
Real Madrid remain 12 points adrift of Barca in third despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s four-goal show in a 7-1 demolition of Celta Vigo on Saturday.
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“It is evident we are well-positioned in the league, but there are plenty of points to play for and meetings with direct rivals to come,” said Barca boss Luis Enrique. “I am very happy to see the team evolve and improve without ever losing their ambition.”
Meanwhile at Mestalla, Atletico rounded off a perfect week after wins over Real Madrid and Real Sociedad to pile more pressure on Neville, who was met with a banner reading “Gary go home” from the home fans.
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“I’m probably the most disappointed I’ve been after a game,” said Neville. “We were in the game and in the last 20 it went away from us. I don’t like to repeat mistakes but it feels the same as last week. I felt we could have got something out of the game.”
Paco Alcacer scored the equaliser after Antoine Griezmann had gotten the visitors in front. Torres then made it 2-1, while Yannick Carrasco sealed all three points when his low effort embarrassed Diego Alves.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2016.
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