Goals from Messi help Barca keep pace at top
BARCELONA 4, VILLARREAL 1
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.