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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

Football

Messi passes 300 Barcelona goals in comeback win
Reuters
Madrid, February 17, 2013
First Published: 08:55 IST(17/2/2013)
Last Updated: 09:00 IST(17/2/2013)

Lionel Messi led Barcelona to a 2-1 comeback victory with a double strike at lowly Granada in La Liga on Saturday taking his tally for the club to 301 goals.

The World Player of the Year pounced on a loose ball to level in the 50th minute and netted a superb free kick for the winner in the 73rd, his 37th league goal of the campaign.

Only a last-minute save from Granada's Tono in a one-on-one situation denied Messi a hat-trick.

The victory moved Barca 15 points clear at the top of the table with second-placed Atletico Madrid playing at Real Valladolid on Sunday.

Barca, who visit AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday, are 19 points in front of third-placed Real Madrid with the champions hosting city rivals Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

Javier Saviola scored the only goal as Malaga warmed up for their midweek Champions League tie with a 1-0 home win over mis-firing Athletic Bilbao.

The Qatari-owned club from the Costa del Sol, in their debut Champions League venture, visit Porto in a first-leg tie on Tuesday.

Argentine Saviola's seventh league goal of the season gave the hosts an 18th-minute advantage. The safe hands of compatriot, goalkeeper Willy Caballero, then helped preserve the lead as fourth-placed Malaga moved on to 42 points, four behind Real.

Earlier, Getafe made light work of La Liga's worst travellers Celta Vigo, romping to a 3-1 victory with all the goals coming in the first half.

Two wins
Barca travelled to Granada without Xavi and David Villa and started with Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Carles Puyol on the bench.

The hosts have been lifted by the arrival of new coach Lucas Alcaraz, winning their first two games under him without conceding a goal.

Granada defeated Real 1-0 two weeks ago, when Cristiano Ronaldo headed an own goal, and downed Deportivo La Coruna 3-0 last time out.

Striker Odion Ighalo put them in front from close range after 26 minutes and they held Barca at bay until just after the restart when Messi reacted quickly after Tono could only parry a Cesc Fabregas shot.

The Argentine added a second goal when his free kick over the wall was too strong for Tono who got a hand to the ball. Barca then had to endure a shaky last few minutes with Victor Valdes pulling off two important late saves.

Malaga took the game to Bilbao at the Rosaleda and loan signing from Chelsea, Lucas Piazon, set up the goal for Saviola when he dribbled to the byline and pulled the ball back for the striker to score.

Piazon and Isco were a constant threat in midfield but Malaga were sloppy in defence at times and Caballero had to make a number of sharp saves to deny Bilbao.

The shaven-headed Argentine launched a counter-attack at the end with a punched clearance and Joaquin fired just wide of the post after sprinting the length of the pitch.

Last year's Europa League and King's Cup finalists Bilbao stayed sixth from bottom on 26 points, behind Granada on goal difference.


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