Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 15th 2017 Contents A44 sports
guardian.co.tt Sunday, January 15, 2017
Messi and Suarez score
MADRID — Lionel Messi didn’t
need a free kick this time, scor-
ing from close range to help
Barcelona rout Las Palmas 5-0
and move within two points of
Spanish league leader Real Ma-
Luis Suarez added two goals and
Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal also
scored as Barcelona easily won at
Camp Nou in its pursuit of Madrid,
which plays at third-place Sevilla on
Sunday. Madrid will remain with a
game in hand after this weekend’s
After scoring free kick goals in
Barcelona’s three previous matches
this year, Messi needed an effortless
shot from close range to get on the
board in the 52nd minute. Las Pal-
mas goalkeeper Javi Varas failed to
handle a left-flank cross by Rafinha
and left the ball in front of the goal
for an easy strike by Messi.
It was Messi’s 13th goal in his last
12 matches, and his first against Las
Palmas, which was the only first-di-
vision club yet to concede a goal to
the playmaker. He has scored against
35 top-flight clubs in Spain, match-
ing a mark that only Raul Gonzalez
achieved while playing for Madrid.
Suarez opened the scoring from a
low cross by Andre Gomes, notched
his second with a well-placed shot
into the far corner and, two minutes
later, set up Turan after his own shot
was saved following a breakaway.
“It was important to win again
in the league, especially playing
at home against a rival that makes
things difficult for opponents,” Su-
arez said. “We need to give ourselves
a lot of credit for the work we’ve
done to earn the three points.”
Messi and Suarez are the league
leading scorers with 14 each, three
more than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi had a chance to set the new
club record for most free kick goals
in the third minute, but his left-foot
shot sailed over the crossbar. He
came closer in the 43rd, but goal-
keeper Varas tipped the ball away
at the top corner. Messi struck the
wall in his final free kick attempt in
“We are all fortunate to have
(Messi) in La Liga, but today he hurt
us,” Las Palmas midfielder Roque
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique
rested Neymar and Andres Iniesta.
Barcelona plays at Real Sociedad
on Thursday in the first leg of the
Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
Las Palmas, eighth in the stand-
ings, hasn’t won away from the Ca-
nary Islands since the first round at
ATLETICO MADRID 1,
REAL BETIS 0
Midfielder Nicolas Gaitan scored
early from a cross into the area to
give fourth-place Atletico its third
straight win in the league.
The result moved Diego Sime-
one’s team to within six points of
“All results matter now,” Atleti-
co midfielder Gabi Fernandez said.
“We have entered a decisive stage in
which we will find out whether we
will finish at the top or if we will have
problems. We played a great match.”
Real Betis stayed in 14th place
with the loss, its fourth consecutive
in away matches.
ATHLETIC BILBAO 0
Athletic, coming off elimination
against Barcelona in the Copa del
Rey, was held by promoted Leganes
to remain seventh in the standings.
Athletic’s last match was 0-0
with Alaves, another team that was
in the second division last season.
Leganes, 16th on the table, came
closest to scoring, while Athletic had
a goal by Raul Garcia disallowed
because of an alleged foul from the
midfielder on a defender. (AP)
Costa, Payet absent
but Chelsea still rule
LONDON — Top-scorer Diego
Costa wasn’t missed by English
Premier League leader Chelsea.
Dimitri Payet’s absence wasn’t felt
by West Ham.
Both teams won their games 3-0
despite missing their talisman yester-
day, but uncertainties linger about the
future of the duo in English football.
West Ham, which beat Crystal Pal-
ace, went public with Payet’s bomb-
shell that he wants to leave and is re-
fusing to play. The east London club
insists the France midfielder will not
be sold in the January transfer window
which runs for another two weeks.
The situation surrounding Costa
isn’t as clear, with Chelsea manager
Antonio Conte’s coy answers after
beating Leicester highlighting deep-
After twice referencing the “truth,”
Conte stressed: “I like to tell the truth
and not lie. Diego stopped training on
Tuesday because he felt a pain in his
back and from that moment he didn’t
train in the week.”
Conte didn’t elaborate on the appar-
ent injury, any further assessment by
Chelsea’s medics, or when the striker
is likely to be fit again.
“It’s a bit difficult to tell you this
now,” Conte said.
Costa’s absence followed the Spain
international being linked with a
big-money move to the ambitious
Chinese Super League and reports of
a rift with the Chelsea coaching staff.
Pointedly, there was no denial
from the manager who had already
expressed a desire not to lie in public.
“If there are problems, I prefer to
solve the problem in the changing
room and not in the press conference,”
Conte said. “If there are problems.”
LEICESTER 0, CHELSEA 3
Chelsea’s first two goals came from
an unlikely source: Marcos Alonso. The
wing back first netted in the sixth min-
ute after being teed up by Eden Hazard
and he was on target again six minutes
into the second half with a low drive.
Pedro Rodriguez headed in the third
as Chelsea went seven points clear of
Tottenham and left Leicester only five
points above the relegation zone in a
pitiful defense of the title won so as-
tonishingly last year.
TOTTENHAM 4, WEST BROM 0
Tottenham, which ended Chel-
sea’s 13-match winning run in its
last game, was rampant again. Harry
Kane’s hat trick gave Tottenham a club
record-equaling sixth straight league
win and Gareth McAuley’s own goal
ensured more misery for West Brom.
The only negative for Tottenham
came in the second half when defend-
er Jan Vertonghen was forced off after
twisting an ankle. Pochettino said the
injury “looked bad,” but there are no
plans to sign a replacement during the
January transfer window.
SWANSEA 0, ARSENAL 4
Arsenal rose to third and sent Swan-
sea sliding to the bottom of the stand-
ings in Paul Clement’s first home game
in charge since replacing the fired Bob
Olivier Giroud scored in a fifth con-
secutive game, including last week-
end’s FA Cup victory over Preston, and
Alexis Sanchez volleyed in his 14th goal
of the league campaign. Alex Iwobi had
two deflected strikes that went down
as own goals scored by Jack Cork and
WEST HAM 3, CRYSTAL PALACE 0
Andy Carroll helped West Ham fans
forget Payet’s unsettling conduct by
scoring an eye-catching bicycle kick as
West Ham’s three-match losing run in
all competitions ended. Sofiane Feg-
houli and Manuel Lanzini netted either
side of Carroll in the London derby that
saw some crowd disturbances in the
stands at the Olympic Stadium again.
BURNLEY 1, SOUTHAMPTON 0
Joey Barton marked his league return
with a goal after coming off the bench
in the second half and bending a free
kick around the wall.
Barton, who last played in the top-
flight with Queens Park Rangers in
2015, spent last season with Burnley
in the second-tier but left after win-
ning promotion for an ill-fated spell
in Scotland at Rangers.
Barton’s spell in the team could
be short-lived with the 34-year-
old midfielder facing a possible ban
for breaching betting regulations.
Burnley, which has won all eight
league games at home, climbed above
Southampton into 10th place.
HULL 3, BOURNEMOUTH 1
November 6: The last time Hull
won in the Premier League and the
last time Abel Hernandez started a
Hernandez capped his recovery
from a groin injury by ending Hull’s
two-month wait for a league win by
scoring twice either side of Tyrone
Mings’ own goal.
It gave Marco Silva, the former
Olympiakos and Sporting Lisbon
coach, a winning start to his career
as a Premier League manager, and en-
sured Hull climbed off the bottom of
WATFORD 0, MIDDLESBROUGH 0
The tributes to Graham Taylor were
more memorable than the game.
Taylor, a former England manager
who took Watford from the fourth tier
to the topflight in five years from 1978,
died on Thursday following a suspect-
ed heart attack. Taylor’s widow, Rita,
was at the stadium to join fans in a
minute’s applause before kickoff.
SUNDERLAND 1, STOKE 3
A third loss in four matches kept
Sunderland in the relegation zone,
while Stoke climbed to ninth. Marko
Arnautovic scored twice and Peter
Crouch headed in a third before half-
Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso, centre, celebrates scoring his second goal during the English Premier League soccer match
between Leicester City and Chelsea at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, yesterday. AP PHOTO
FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, front, duels for the ball against Las Palmas’
Mauricio Lemos during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC
Barcelona and Las Palmas at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain,
yesterday. AP PHOTO
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