Tello scores twice as Barcelona beat Zaragoza

Reuters, Sunday 14 Apr 2013

The Spanish giants won despite the absence of stars Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique

Tello
Barcelona's Tello celebrates a goal against Real Zaragoza during their Spanish first division soccer league match at La Romareda stadium in Zaragoza (Photo: Reuters)

Cristian Tello scored twice as an under-strength Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win at struggling Real Zaragoza to extend their lead at the top of La Liga to 16 points on Sunday.

Barca's priority is to conserve their energies for the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich in two weeks time and players such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique were all missing.

Making the most of their opportunities were Barca youth academy products Tello and Thiago Alcantara who scored the goals as the leaders moved on to 81 points with seven games left to play.

Champions Real Madrid, in second, can cut the deficit back to 13 again with a victory at Athletic Bilbao in the late game.

Thiago ran the length of the pitch on a counter-attack and fired in off the far post after a one-two with Alexis Sanchez in the 20th minute. The Spanish international then laid on the second for Tello.

His through ball put the pacy left winger clear to lift his shot over Roberto just before halftime, and Tello sped past his marker to squeeze the third inside the far post in the 53rd minute.

Alexis had already hit the crossbar but Zaragoza, who have yet to win in 2013, rarely threatened.

Earlier, Radamel Falcao scored twice as Atletico Madrid swept aside visiting Granada 5-0 to keep the pressure on second-placed Real.

The Colombia striker, constantly linked with a move to Europe's top clubs, took his league tally for the season to 24 as Atletico moved level with their King's Cup final opponents on 65 points, but are third due to an inferior goal difference.

Atletico were ahead after only four minutes at the Calderon when Diego Costa headed in Koke's cross, and the Brazilian striker set up Falcao for the second after a swift counter-attack.

Midfielder Koke, a Spanish youth international, curled in teasing free kicks for Falcao and Raul Garcia to volley the third and fourth goals after the break, and the over-lapping Filipe Luis made it 5-0 in the 70th minute.

A quick-fire double from Imanol Agirretxe helped fourth-placed Real Sociedad to a 2-0 win at Rayo Vallecano that strengthened their hold on the last Champions League qualification berth in La Liga.

The club from San Sebastian were 2-0 up inside 14 minutes and extended their unbeaten league run to 13 games as they moved on to 54 points, four clear of Malaga and Valencia in fifth and sixth respectively.

Striker Agirretxe netted twice from close range after low crosses from the left at a sun-drenched Vallecas stadium, and Rayo responded with a double tactical substitution of both their right-sided players in the 16th minute.

While it plugged the hole it failed to turn the game, and Rayo's push for a place in Europe next season faltered as they stayed ninth with 44 points.

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