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Dhaka Tribune

Messi takes Barcelona 11 points clear, Ronaldo hits four

Update : 19 Mar 2018, 10:19 AM
Lionel Messi delivered another masterful performance as Barcelona sailed past Athletic Bilbao 2-0 on Sunday to take an 11-point lead over nearest rivals Atletico Madrid in La Liga. After putting Chelsea to the sword in the Champions League midweek, Messi scored for the sixth game in a row against Athletic at the Camp Nou to propel Barca closer to the domestic title. "Every day he discovers something new, something different, he's very aware of what he has to do, what the team needs from him at each moment," Barca coach Erneste Valverde said of Messi, the Spanish league's leading scorer this season with 25 goals."Many times it seems that the coach has to teach the players, but what the coach really does is learn alongside them as things go on. We hope to keep on learning together." Not to be outdone by his greatest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo then hit four goals as Real Madrid downed Girona 6-3 to move into third place, albeit still 15 points off Barcelona. A dominant start from Barca yielded the opening goal after just eight minutes as Messi found Jordi Alba out on the left, his pull-back neatly side-footed into the far corner by Paco Alcacer, filling in for the suspended Luis Suarez.The hosts looked a constant threat early on and Philippe Coutinho was denied a second when he rattled the woodwork, while Ousmane Dembele should have done much better with just Kepa Arrizabalaga to beat. But the Athletic goalkeeper was powerless to keep out a crunching low drive from Messi on the half hour, the Argentine taking a touch to control a pass from Dembele before lashing home. Coutinho, the club's record signing, struck the woodwork for a second time as he tried to lob Kepa after latching onto a clever lofted pass from Paulinho, who then smacked a curling shot of his own against the upright.Barca extended their unbeaten La Liga run to 36 matches dating back to last season, drawing to within two games of the record set Real Sociedad between 1979 and 1980. "I would love to (break the record) but why carry on talking about it if we can lose, win or draw the next game," Valverde said. "We're not going to tempt fate. The next match in Seville will be a very difficult trip." Real Madrid reclaimed third place from Valencia when Ronaldo took his La Liga goals tally this season to 22 with four in a 6-3 victory over Girona at the Bernabeu. Ronaldo has now scored 21 goals in all competitions in 13 games since the turn of the year."I hope that he can catch Messi in La Liga (he is three goals behind), it's important for him and for us," said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. "When Cristiano plays well, the team plays well." The Portuguese star opened the scoring with a deflection after 11 minutes, adding his second off the crossbar three minutes after the break when the two sides had been locked 1-1.Ronaldo teed up Lucas Vazquez on the hour mark before completing his hat-trick four minutes later and adding a fourth in stoppage time. Welsh star Gareth Bale was also on the scoresheet four minutes from time. Second-placed Atletico effectively surrendered their hopes of overhauling Barca at the top, as two late goals from 20-year-old Turkey striker Enes Unal handed Villarreal a 2-1 victory over Diego Simeone's side. Antoine Griezmann converted a first-half penalty after he was impeded by Jaume Costa, before Koke hit the post.But Unal headed in an 82nd-minute equaliser for the hosts and turned home a stoppage-time winner as Villarreal climbed up to fifth. Sevilla crashed to a 2-1 league defeat by Leganes just days after pulling off the surprise elimination of Manchester United in the Champions League. The loss means Sevilla are increasingly unlikely to qualify for the Champions League through La Liga this season. Meanwhile, Real Sociedad sacked coach Eusebio Sacristan on Sunday with the team in 15th place with Imanol Alguacil installed until the end of the season.  RESULTS:Leganes 2 (Bustinza 41, Eraso 69) Sevilla 1 (Layun 90)Barcelona 2 (Alcacer 8, Messi 30) Athletic Bilbao 0Villarreal 2 (Unal 82, 90+1) Atletico Madrid 1 (Griezmann 20-pen)Celta Vigo 0 Malaga 0Real Madrid 6 (Ronaldo 11, 48, 64, 90+1, Lucas 59, Bale 86) Girona 3 (Stuani 29, 67, Juanpe 88)  La Liga table after Sunday's matches (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):Barcelona           29 23  6  0 74 13 75Atletico Madrid     29 19  7  3 49 14 64Real Madrid         29 18  6  5 73 33 60Valencia            29 18  5  6 57 31 59Villarreal          29 14  5 10 40 33 47Sevilla             29 14  3 12 37 44 45Girona              29 12  7 10 43 42 43Real Betis          29 13  4 12 49 53 43Getafe              29 10  9 10 35 27 39Celta Vigo          29 11  6 12 45 42 39Eibar               29 11  6 17 36 43 39Leganes             29 10  6 13 25 35 36Athletic Bilbao     29  8 11 10 29 33 35Espanyol            29  8 11 10 26 37 35Real Sociedad       29  9  6 14 51 52 33Alaves              29 10  1 18 26 45 31Levante             29  5 12 12 25 43 27Las Palmas          29  5  6 18 21 58 21Deportivo La Coruna 29  4  8 17 26 60 20Malaga              29  3  5 21 16 45 14
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