Messi continues magical run at Santander

reuters, Sunday 11 Mar 2012

Lionel Messi’s astonishing recent goal glut continued when he struck twice in a 2-0 win for Barcelona at struggling Racing Santander on Sunday that cut Real Madrid’s lead at the top of La Liga to 10 points

Lionel Messi

The Argentine World Player of the Year took his tally to 13 goals in his last five games for Barca, including a record five in Wednesday’s Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen.

Real had to come from a goal down to beat Real Betis 3-2 in Seville on Saturday when they set a club record of 10 successive wins on the road in coach Jose Mourinho’s 100th game in charge.

With 12 matches left, Real have 70 points with champions Barca on 60. Valencia dropped further behind the leaders in third on 44 points after they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Real Mallorca earlier on Sunday.

Messi put Barca ahead in the 29th minute at the Sardinero in Santander when he slid in to turn a Cesc Fabregas centre into the net from close range

He doubled the lead with a 56th-minute penalty following a foul on Fabregas, his 30th of the campaign in the league, leaving him two behind top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, and his 50th in all competitions this season.

Winger Isaac Cuenca went close to a third, striking a powerful shot that cannoned back off a post, before Santander goalkeeper Mario Fernandez denied Messi a hat-trick with a fine save from the 24-year-old’s rasping drive.

Atletico Madrid and Espanyol climbed to seventh and eighth respectively after home wins against Granada and Rayo Vallecano.

Defender Miranda and striker Radamel Falcao scored in a 2-0 win for Atletico, while Nigerian forward Kalu Uche grabbed a hat-trick in Espanyol’s 5-1 drubbing of Rayo.

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