Messi scores 400th goal for Barcelona in 2-0 win vs. Va­len­cia

The China Post - - SPORTS -

close sev­eral times be­fore Barcelona set­tled down af­ter half­time, and Messi sealed the win right be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle.

Barcelona next turns to the Cham­pi­ons League for its home match against Paris Saint-Ger­main on Tues­day, when it will aim to pro­tect a 3-1 lead in their sec­ond­leg quar­ter­fi­nal.

Atletico’s An­toine Griez­mann also struck a brace as the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons strength­ened their hold on third place with a 2-1 victory at De­portivo La Coruna.

Atletico coach Diego Sime­one was red­carded ap­par­ently for com­plain­ing just be­fore half­time as his team moved four points clear of fourth-place Va­len­cia fol­low­ing its first loss in 11 rounds.

Barcelona had a per­fect start when Suarez used one touch to drive Messi’s pass un­der goal­keeper Diego Alves and fin­ish off a coun­ter­at­tack started by Ser­gio Bus­quets.

But Va­len­cia’s com­plete con­trol of the rest of the first half led to the rare sight of Barcelona with­out the ball — and seem­ingly at a loss as to how it could re­cover it in front of si­lent fans.

Va­len­cia’s pres­sure pro­duced poor passes from Barcelona play­ers — Ger­ard Pique was par­tic­u­larly care­less — as Nuno Espir­ito Santo’s side be­sieged Bravo’s goal.

The vis­i­tors’ best hope of equal­iz­ing came af­ter Pique fouled Ro­drigo Moreno while dis­put­ing a throw-in just in­side the box.

Bravo smoth­ered Parejo’s spot kick, but Va­len­cia kept threat­en­ing a goal through Al­cacer.

Messi curled a free kick off the cor­ner of the goal­frame in the 64th, but he had to wait un­til Va­len­cia’s en­tire team ex­cept its goal­keeper went for­ward in hope of a last-gasp equal­izer. That left Messi all alone to beat Diego Alves af­ter he saved Messi’s ini­tial chip shot.

Bale hurt his left calf two min­utes into the match at San­ti­ago Bern­abeu Sta­dium, and Mo­dric went down af­ter tweak­ing his right knee in the 57th, with Madrid win­ning 1-0.

Ser­gio Ramos volleyed in Ron­aldo’s free kick for the 24th-minute lead. Ron­aldo fired a spot kick off the post in the 67th, but James Ro­driguez worked two one-two pass­ing com­bi­na­tions to score two min­utes later.

Juan Jimenez hit back im­me­di­ately for Malaga when Pepe left him un­marked in the 76th.

Ron­aldo then tapped Javier Her­nan­dez’s cross into the open net for his com­pe­ti­tion lead­ing 39th goal of the sea­son.

Griez­mann moved into third place on the sea­son’s top-scorer list af­ter he struck with a scis­sor kick to put Atletico ahead in the fifth and added his 20th league goal in the 22nd. De­portivo’s Oriol Riera scored with a header in the 78th.

Ath­letic Bil­bao hosted Getafe late.

AP

FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, right, du­els for the ball against Va­len­cia’s Javi Fuego, sec­ond left, dur­ing a Span­ish La Liga soc­cer match at the Camp Nou sta­dium in Barcelona, Spain on Satur­day, April 18.

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