MADRID – Lionel Messi took his senior career goal tally to 301 as he scored twice in Barcelona’s 5-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano which put them three points clear at the top of La Liga on Saturday.
The World Player of the Year got Barca’s second just after halftime and finished off the rout with another at the end. He has now scored 270 goals for his club and 31 for Argentina.Spain players David Villa, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas scored the others as Barcelona continued their unbeaten start under new coach Tito Vilanova and moved on to 25 points from nine games.
Second-placed Atletico Madrid, with 22 points, host bottom club Osasuna on Sunday when champions Real Madrid, in fifth with 14 points, travel to Real Mallorca.
Malaga are third with 18 points after suffering a European hangover with a 0-0 draw at struggling Espanyol.
Their midweek 1-0 home win over AC Milan looked to have taken its toll as the Champions League debutants struggled to create openings against resolute hosts.
Espanyol’s under-pressure coach Mauricio Pochettino told a news conference: “A point doesn’t seem like much but it shows we have recovered our confidence, playing like we did against a Champions League team”.Salva Sevilla scored after nine minutes to gi e Real Betis a 1-0 win over inconsistent Valencia that moved them up to fourth with 16 points.
A half-cleared cross fell to midfielder Sevilla after nine minutes at the Villamarin, and his first-time shot was too powerful for visiting keeper Diego Alves.Valencia, still seeking their first away win this season, improved in the second half when striker Roberto Soldado, who scored a hat-trick against BATE Borisov in the Champions League during the week, twice went close.
Betis keeper Adrian blocked another Soldado effort with his legs in the closing minutes to leave Valencia ninth in the table with 11 points.
Celta Vigo are 11th with 10 points after surviving a 51st-minute red card for defender Gustavo Cabral to draw 1-1 at home to regional rivals Deportivo Coruna in a pulsating Galician derby.
Mario Bermejo bundled in the opener for the hosts after only eight minutes but former Spain player Juan Carlos Valeron, 37, rolled back the years to dance between two defenders and set up Juan Dominguez for the equaliser in the 29th.
Cabral was dismissed after picking up two yellow cards in as many minutes early in the second half and either side could have bagged a winner in a high-octane encounter.—Reuters