woensdag 21 maart 2012

Barcelona 5-3 Granada

History-making Messi breaks club goalscoring record as gap at top of La Liga is reduced to five points
Los Cules' talismanic Argentine scores a hat-trick to surpass Cesar Rodriguez's all-time goalscoring record, as Pep Guardiola's side continue to cut Real Madrid's advantage

Lionel Messi, Barcelona, Granada 

Despite an impressive second-half comeback from Granada, Barcelona emerged 5-3 victors in the two side's La Liga clash at Camp Nou, thanks to a well-taken hat-trick from the record-breaking Lionel Messi, and further goals from Xavi and Cristian Tello. 

Xavi gave Barcelona the lead after just four minutes following good build-up play from Isaac Cuenca and Messi. Cuenca did well to evade his marker on the left before lifting a cross to the back post that Messi carefully nodded back into Xavi's path, and he made no mistake in finding the back of the net with his strike from eight yards.  

Cuenca was again the provider as Barcelona increased their lead fifteen minutes later, the attacker jynxing his way past Guilherme Siqueira on the left once more before sending an inviting cross into the area. Granada's Borja Gomez looked to have nodded the ball away to safety, but Messi had other ideas, immediately sending a sublime side-footed volley back across goal and in off the post. 

Barca ended the opening 45 minutes comfortably on top in this game, with Granada rarely venturing out of their own half. 

They started the second half just how they ended the first, in complete control, and Messi should have increased their lead on 52 minutes after more fantastic wing play from Cuenca, but the Argentine could only scuff his shot wide in a crowded penalty area.

Granada pulled a goal back against the run of play to make it 2-1 on 55 minutes courtesy of their captain Diego Mainz. The Granada skipper did well to rise highest inside the Barcelona penalty area to head home Martins' whipped free-kick from the left-hand side. 

The away side then remarkably levelled the scores after the referee awarded them a penalty when Daniel Benitez went down inside the area after tussling with Dani Alves. The left-back Siqueira stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty into the back of the net, sending Victor Valdes the wrong way in the process. 

Despite Granada's spirited comeback, normality resumed midway through the second half, with Barcelona retaking the lead through their talismanic Argentine, Lionel Messi. 

History was made in the 72nd minute as Messi provided a trademark lobbed finish to give Barcelona a 3-2 lead, running through one-on-one against Julio Cesar after a fine ball from Alves had found the attacker in space behind the Granada back four. 

That goal takes Messi's tally in official competitions to 233, making him Barcelona's leading goalscorer of all time, one ahead of the club legend Cesar Rodriguez, who had previously held the record with 232. 

Barcelona's substitute Tello added a fourth for the home side after a well-worked move between Xavi and Messi found the youngster unmarked six yards out. 

Messi still had time to complete his hat-trick late on, running on to a perfectly-weighted Alves through ball before dribbling round Cesar and firing the ball into the back of the net.

The home side then had Alves sent off for a second bookable offence, and again Granada were awarded a penalty. Siqueira bagged his second of the game with a nonchalant chip over Victor Valdes.

Messi will grab the headlines following his record-breaking goals in this match, but the victory is also important in the title chase, as Barcelona's three points tonight mean they are provisionally just five points behind Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, with the capital side set to play Villarreal tomorrow evening.


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