Millennium Post

Four star Messi flatters again

Lionel Messi became the first player to score in eleven consecutive La Liga matches on Sunday when he hit four as leaders Barcelona eased past a ten-man Osasuna with a 5-1 victory.

Pedro Rodriguez got the other and Raoul Loe got a consolation for Osasuna, who played for more than an hour with ten men after Alejandro Arribas was harshly sent-off after two handball incidents.

Barcelona remain 15 points ahead of Real Madrid in third position. Osasuna remain in the relegation zone on 18 points, two from safety.

David Villa started his first league game for Barca in more than two months and former Liverpool player Javier Mascherano filled in for the suspended Gerard Pique in the centre of defence.

Thiago Alcantara was the first to test the highly rated Andres Fernandez in the Osasuna goal on four minutes, but the keeper was quick to block a shot that the midfielder tried to lift over his head from close range.

It did not take long though for the breakthrough and on eleven minutes Messi opened the scoring and claimed another record.

A long through pass was cleared by Andres only as far as Xavi Hernandez, who found the Argentine in the area. There was still work to do but the four-time winner of the Ballon d’Or produced a beautiful dummy to take him past the keeper before tapping home.

Osasuna levelled the game on 24 minutes against the run of play when Marc Beltran crossed from the right and Loe hit a shot from outside the area.

However, the side from Pamplona were left with ten men only three minutes later when centre-half Arribas received a second yellow card after a shot struck his hand in the area.

Messi coolly slotted away the penalty for his second and Pedro made it three before half-time after a generous pass from Dani Alves left him with a tap in from close range.

The Argentine got his hat-trick on 56 minutes when he started a move in midfield, exchanged passes with Villa, and took the ball around the keeper before slotting home.

And a minute later and it was five and four for Messi as he finished off a swift Barca attack and Adriano pass from close range.


Athletic Bilbao moved up to 12th place in the Spanish Primera Division after a comprehensive 3-0 victory over a lacklustre Atletico Madrid on Sunday evening.

Diego Simeone’s men were attempting to keep pace at the top of the table and make up ground on leaders Barcelona, but strikes from Mikel San Jose, Oscar De Marcos, and Markel Susaeta sealed an extremely satisfying with for the Basque side.

Meanwhile Malaga recovered from a late scare to come out with a narrow 3-2 win over Mallorca at the Iberostar stadium.

Javier Saviola got the ball rolling for his side in just the 10th minute when he latched on to a poor clearance from Mallorca to smash home with a volley. Isco doubled the lead six minutes later.

Victor Casadesus got the Islanders back into the match before the half-hour mark. However, Malaga got the all-important next goal to seal the match.


TBarcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi says he must improve on all fronts even as debate rages as to whether he is the best player ever. ‘In everything we do in life we try to improve on all fronts and in football I am no exception,’ Messi told Clarin daily in an interview published on Sunday. Messi, 25, claims to be mulling how to do even better despite having already won a welter of honours, including a record four straight Ballons d’Or. Playing for Barcelona keeps his feet on the ground, Messi says, not least because clubmates Xavi and Andres Iniesta were also candidates for his footballer of the year status, conferred on him once again earlier this month. Messi says remaining humble is part of the Barcelona philosophy. ‘It’s a dressing room where we are all very similar in outlook. The way we are and our education both within and outside the club gave us that (outlook),’ said Messi. Messi also told Clarin that he would not change his view that the club must come before the individual. ‘My goal is not to break records - every season I want to win everything possible with my team,’ he insisted.


Real Madrid’s resilience will be tested to the full when they host holders Barcelona in a King’s Cup semifinal first leg without a number of their most influential players on Wednesday. The Cup semifinal arrives with the side hampered by injuries and suspensions. Captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas has been ruled out for up to three months after needing surgery on a fractured bone in his hand, and defender Pepe has yet to return after ankle surgery. Defenders Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao, and winger Angel Di Maria, are all suspended for the first leg. ‘It’s a really important game, a tough game,’ Real’s leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo said. ‘We’re playing at home, which is a great opportunity to be successful. We will miss key players.’
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