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The goal machine

sports Updated: Oct 29, 2012 01:08 IST
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Lionel Messi smashed through the 300-goal mark with a brace as Barcelona crushed Rayo Vallecano 5-0 in Madrid on Saturday to go three points clear at the top of La Liga.

David Villa, Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas got the other goals to put the pressure back onto second-placed Atletico Madrid who entertain Osasuna on Sunday.

Messi's goals were the 300th and 301st of his career, a total made up of 270 for Barca and 31 for Argentina in only 419 matches. They also took him to 13 in the league this season and 73 in all competitions in 2012.

Rayo started brightly and had claims for a penalty turned down in eighth minute when Fabregas appeared to hold back Leo Baptistao.

Rayo were pressuring the Catalans and it took until the 19th minute for Barca to have their first shot when Messi drove wide. However, a minute later, Barcelona were ahead.

The chance came from nothing when Fabregas picked up a loose ball and played in Villa with a probing pass that the Spanish national team's all-time top scorer finished first time with his right foot.

Fabregas was the supplier again for Villa seven minutes later, but this time his shot was saved by Ruben Martinez in the Rayo goal. Two minutes later, Ruben advanced quickly to block a Fabregas effort after Messi had found the ex-Arsenal man in space.

Messi magic
Messi went close with a curled free-kick and as a hard fought first-half drew to a close Andrija Delibasic forced Victor Valdes into a save at the other end.

Within two minutes of the restart, Messi had doubled the lead. Pedro Rodriguez found Martin Montoya in an advanced wide position and the right-back pulled the ball back for the little Argentinian who steered it first time into the top right corner of the net.

Javi Fuego then hit a rasping left footed drive that Valdes pushed wide and Jordi Amat tried his luck from distance as the home side looked for a quick way back into the match.

Valdes was earning his wages as he next got down well to stop another drive from Fuego.

Barcelona were quick to sense the danger and began to close down the game with a more measured approach that restricted Rayo's attacking forays. Xavi and Fabregas then added two more in two minutes with 10 minutes remaining.

With two minutes left, Messi raced onto a Fabregas pass to get his second and his side's fifth.

Everton rally to hold Liverpool
London: Leon Osman and Steven Naismith scored the goals as Everton fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in an engaging Merseyside derby with Liverpool on Sunday. The visitors took an early advantage through a Leighton Baines own goal, which saw Luis Suarez run half the length of the pitch to dive on the ground in front of the Everton manager.

Suarez then headed Liverpool 2-0 up but Osman pulled one back just two minutes later before former Rangers forward Naismith pulled the hosts level with his first Everton goal.