Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 16th 2014 Contents A53
February 16, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
BARCELONA---Lionel Messi scored two
goals and set up another to help Barcelona
brush aside Rayo Vallecano 6-0 and keep
its share of the Spanish league lead yes-
terday, after fellow pacesetter Atletico
Madrid beat Valladolid 3-0.
Barcelona's big win, which included the
scoring return of Neymar after a monthlong
injury absence, came three days before it
visits Manchester City in the first leg of
their Champions League last-16 tie.
Barcelona punished a visiting Rayo side
intent on trying to deploy a similar precision
passing attack and was unfortunate to head
into halftime only up 2-0 from Adriano's
second-minute opener and Messi's lob in
The Camp Nou hosts found their finishing
touch in the second half, as Messi struck
again before assisting Alexis Sanchez, with
Pedro Rodriguez and Neymar also adding
Messi's double gave him 228 goals in
league play at the age of 26, giving him one
more than Alfredo Di Stefano and tying him
with Raul Gonzalez as the competition's
third all-time leading scorer. Telmo Zarra
holds the record with 251.
The Argentina forward appears to have
regained his full fitness following a two-
month injury layoff with four goals in his
last two games. And while Barcelona coach
Gerardo Martino rested Xavi Hernandez to
have him fresh for City, Andres Iniesta and
Cesc Fabregas picked apart Rayo with their
"We played a complete game, both in
attack and in defense," Adriano said. "It
was time we had a match at home like this.
Now we need to rest up and Tuesday we
have to be 100 percent again."
Atletico likewise dominated its home
match after Raul Garcia scored three minutes
in from a set-piece and seconds later passed
for Diego Costa to record his 21st league
goal of the season, one less than leader Cris-
tiano Ronaldo. Diego Godin scored in the
74th minute of Atletico's placid victory that
saw goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and striker
David Villa return from injury absences.
Atletico's win ended a run of three straight
losses before it visits AC Milan on Wednes-
day in the Champions League.
Barcelona and Atletico opened up a pro-
visional three-point advantage over Real
Madrid before it plays at Getafe today.
Rayo and Valladolid, meanwhile, remained
in the relegation zone along with Real Betis.
Messi hit the right post after Sergio Bus-
quets recovered the ball in the 14th, and
four minutes later Pedro rattled the left
Messi forced goalkeeper Ruben Martinez
to make a pair of saves before Fabregas
intercepted another errant pass and spotted
Messi completely unmarked near Rayo's
box. Messi dribbled forward and easily
chipped the ball over Martinez to double
Messi found Alexis all alone to beat Mar-
tinez in the 53rd and tally his team-leading
15th league goal of the season, and three
minutes later Pedro tapped in a short pass
from Fabregas, who was played clear by Ini-
esta's deft back-heeled flick.
Messi took his second goal in the 68th
with a left-footed shot just inside the
upright, and Neymar capped the rout in
the 89th after he came on as a substitute.
In Valencia, Levante extended its unde-
feated streak to six rounds thanks to its
stout defense and David Barral's solo effort
to beat visiting Almeria 1-0.
Barral used an acrobatic kick to loop Nabil
El Zhar's cross inside the post in the 62nd.
However, Levante needed another superb
save from goalkeeper Keylor Navas to swat
Oscar Diaz's shot onto the goalframe in the
89th to ensure it provisionally rose to sev-
Messi scores double
in Barca's 6-0 rout
PARIS---Colombia winger James
Rodriguez showed how to cope
without striker Radamel Falcao by
scoring two clinical goals as Monaco
won 2-0 at Bastia to remain five
points behind French league leader
Paris Saint-Germain yesterday.
Falcao is out for months as he
recovers from a serious knee injury,
and Monaco signed former Man-
chester United forward Dimitar
Berbatov as cover. But with Berbatov
out with a minor knee injury,
Rodriguez stepped up to take on the
"James Rodriguez played well and
he's an important player for us, but
this was a win for the team," Monaco
coach Claudio Ranieri said. "For me,
this was an intelligent win."
Ranieri has played down Monaco's
title hopes throughout the season.
"You all want to see Monaco fight-
ing for the title but it's not easy," he
said. "It will be hard to catch PSG
because they're very good in the
Champions League and the (French)
league. We'll do our best."
Rodriguez's first goal, on the stroke
of halftime, was a superb free kick
that rocketed in before goalkeeper
Jean-Louis Leca could even move,
and his second in the 77th minute
came after a superb counterattack.
Rodriguez ran from the halfway line
to finish emphatically and take his
league tally this season to five.
"I'm happy to score twice, but we
all played well. It was an important
win for us," Rodriguez said through
an interpreter. "We still dream of
winning the league, we'll keep going
and do everything we can to be ready."
Bastia striker Djibril Cisse was taken
off midway through the second half
and looked angrily at coach Frederic
Hantz as he replaced him with Wahbi
Khazri. But it made little difference
as Bastia struggled to create chances.
"It wasn't even close, we played
against a much better team than us,"
said Bastia defender Sebastien Squil-
laci, a former Monaco player. "We
did what we could and we gave every-
thing. There's nothing to be ashamed
of."PSG was barely troubled when it
beat Valenciennes 3-0 on Friday, with
top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic netting
his 19th league goal and 32nd overall.
In his second season, he has 67 goals
in total, more than he has managed
with any club during a career that
has seen him play for Ajax, Juventus,
Inter Milan and Barcelona. (AP)
Rodriguez scores twice as Monaco beats Bastia 2-0
FLORENCE---Inter Milan won 2-1 at Fiorentina
in Serie A yesterday to keep alive its faint hopes
of qualifying for the Champions League.
Inter moved five points behind fourth-place
Fiorentina and eight points behind third-place
Napoli, which visits relegation-threatened Sas-
suolo on Sunday.
Inter took the lead in the 34th minute when
Rodrigo Palacio, who earlier hit the post, chested
down Fredy Guarin's pass, and right-footed it
past on-rushing Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto.
Fiorentina leveled immediately after the break
as a rare mistake from Inter goalkeeper Samir
Handanovic allowed in a long-range effort from
Substitute Mauro Icardi scored what was to
prove the winner in the 65th when he volleyed
home Yuto Nagatomo's cross, although there
was a suspicion of offside.
It was Icardi's first appearance of 2014 after
Fiorentina brought on Mario Gomez three
minutes later for his first appearance in five
Gomez was Fiorentina's marquee signing when
he joined in the summer from Bayern Munich
for a reported 20 million euros ($26 million) but
injured his left knee in a match against Cagliari
on September 15.
The forward almost leveled in stoppage time
but was unable to get the final touch on Alessan-
dro Matri's volley across goal. (AP)
Inter Milan defeats
SAO PAULO---Fifa is expected to conduct sur-
prise doping tests of all World Cup players at
least once beginning in March, setting up bio-
logical passports to determine possible irreg-
ularities in blood and urine samples.
Fifa chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak said yes-
terday all teams and players should be tested
unannounced between March 1 and the World
Cup opener in June.
In a news conference, he also said Fifa's medical
staff will decide before games whether drinking
breaks will be used during the World Cup in
Brazil. He said football's governing body is not
overly concerned with the heat during matches
in the jungle city of Manaus, which will host
matches by England, Italy, Portugal and the
Dvorak said surprise visits will be made to get
samples from an "entire squad" after March 1,
which is when teams have to tell Fifa where they
will be training and playing friendlies ahead of
the World Cup. (AP)
surprise doping tests
before World Cup
FC Barcelona's Adriano, from Brazil, second left, reacts after scoring with his teammates
Lionel Messi, from Artentina, left, and Cesc Fabregas, third left, against Rayo Vallecano
during a Spanish La Liga football match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain,
yesterday. Barcelona won 6-0. AP PHOTO
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