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.