The London Free Press - - SPORTS -


Lionel Messi took his all-time league scor­ing record to 400 goals by con­tribut­ing to a 3-0 win over Eibar to keep de­fend­ing cham­pion Barcelona com­fort­ably at the top. Messi scored his side’s sec­ond goal shortly af­ter half­time to reach a mile­stone in the com­pe­ti­tion af­ter 435 league matches. For­mer Real Madrid ri­val Cris­tiano Ron­aldo is sec­ond all-time in La Liga with 311 goals. In all com­pe­ti­tions, Barcelona says the 31-year-old Messi has scored an as­ton­ish­ing 575 goals in 658 ap­pear­ances. Barcelona stayed five points ahead of sec­ond-placed Atletico Madrid, which edged Le­vante 1-0 on a penalty by An­toine Griez­mann, as the league reached its mid­way point. Real Madrid lost Karim Ben­zema to a right-hand in­jury in a 2-1 win at Real Betis to stay 10 points back in fourth place.


Cesc Fabre­gas al­most had a dream de­but for Monaco only for team­mate Youri Tiele­mans to waste a late golden chance in a 1-1 draw at Mar­seille. De­spite only sign­ing from Premier League Chelsea on Fri­day, Fabre­gas went straight into the team and added poise and as­sur­ance to Monaco’s mid­field. In the first minute of stop­page time, Fabre­gas clev­erly chipped the ball over the Mar­seille de­fence, only for Tiele­mans to drag his shot wide. Else­where, Mont­pel­lier missed the chance to move up to third place af­ter draw­ing 1-1 at rel­e­ga­tion­threat­ened Di­jon.


In­ter Mi­lan eased into the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Ital­ian Cup, al­though none of its fans were present at San Siro to see the Ner­az­zurri crush sec­ond-di­vi­sion Ben­evento 6-2. In­ter was forced to play the match be­hind closed doors as part of its pun­ish­ment for racist chant­ing in the Dec. 26 league match against Napoli. Else­where, in­jury-hit Napoli beat Sas­suolo 2-0 to book a quar­ter­fi­nal match against AC Mi­lan, and Fed­erico Chiesa’s two late goals sent Fiorentina through 2-0 at Torino, set­ting up a quar­ter against ei­ther Roma or third-di­vi­sion Vir­tus En­tella.

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