Goals from Messi help Barca keep pace at top



Lionel Messi scored his 50th and 51st goals in all com­pe­ti­tions to help Barcelona keep the pres­sure on Real Madrid in the Span­ish league’s tight ti­tle race Satur­day.

Ney­mar and Luis Suarez also struck in a 4-1 vic­tory over vis­it­ing Villarreal that in­creased the com­bined goal tally of Barcelona’s trio of star strik­ers to 102 in the cam­paign.

Barcelona’s fifth straight win kept it level on points with Real Madrid, which eased to a 4-0 vic­tory at al­ready rel­e­gated Granada even with­out Cris­tiano Ron­aldo.

Barcelona holds the tiebreaker over Madrid, but Madrid has three matches to play after this round to Barcelona’s two. That means Madrid con­trols its own fate as it tries to de­throne Barcelona and lift its first Liga ti­tle since 2012.

“We now have three fi­nals left,” Madrid Coach Zine­dine Zi­dane said. “It doesn’t mat­ter what Barcelona does. We have to fo­cus on our matches.”

ENG­LAND: Swansea was the big win­ner as the fight to stay in the world’s rich­est do­mes­tic league took more twists across three games.

After wit­ness­ing losses for rel­e­ga­tion ri­vals Crys­tal Palace and then Hull, Swansea beat Ever­ton, 1-0, at home to climb out of the bot­tom three for the first time in a month. That’s seven points won from the last three games for the Welsh club that looked in such a mess in late De­cem­ber when it fired Amer­i­can coach Bob Bradley.

“It’s one of my proud­est mo­ments,” said Cle­ment, a for­mer as­sis­tant at Real Madrid, Bay­ern Mu­nich, Paris Saint-Ger­main and Chelsea.

Last-place Sun­der­land al­ready is rel­e­gated. Next-to-last Mid­dles­brough is set to drop, too, Mon­day. It looks to be down to three teams — Palace, Swansea or Hull — for the fi­nal rel­e­ga­tion place.

MLS: Jozy Alti­dore earned and scored a penalty kick early in the first half, and short­handed Toronto FC beat the Seat­tle Sounders, 1-0, in Seat­tle . . . .

C.J. Sapong scored three times in 11 min­utes late in the sec­ond half to help the Philadel­phia Union de­feat the New York Red Bulls, 3-0, in Ch­ester, Pa . . . .

Ola Ka­mara had a goal and an as­sist and Zack St­ef­fen made five saves for his third shutout, lead­ing the Colum­bus Crew past the vis­it­ing New Eng­land Revo­lu­tion, 2-0.

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