Barcelona ‘turn the page’ and return to winning ways
Villarreal 1 – 4 Barcelona
A Lionel Messi brace helped Barcelona return to winning ways against Villarreal last night in a comfortable 4-1 victory at El Madrigal.
Strikes from Bojan and Xavi secured the three points for the La Liga leaders, putting them four points clear of Real Madrid who host Osasuna later this evening.
Pep Guardiola’s side suffered the disappointment of elimination from the Champions League in a tempestuous affair at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, but those who were expecting a lingering European hangover were proved wrong last night.
Many had cited the trip to El Madrigal as a possible stumbling block which could have provided yet another twist in an enticing title race, but on the night the Catalan giants proved they are still a great team and tightened their grip on the League.
A nervy start from Barca provided the home side with a couple of clear-cut chances which fell to Nilmar, but the striker failed to find a finish on both occasions. .
And inevitably Villarreal were left to rue the missed opportunities as the visitors took the lead in the 18th minute.
Xavi sliced open the Villarreal defence with Messi on hand to slot the ball into the net. Xavi then doubled the reigning champions’ lead with a superb free kick and Bojan scored arguably the pick of the goals after an outstanding solo run saw him out-pace a host of defenders and snatch Barcelona’s third before half-time.
In the 66th minute Joseba Llorente did manage to score a consolation goal for the home side, but it was Messi who had the final say as he made it 4-1 with three minutes of normal time remaining to take his La Liga goal tally to 29.
“It was a tough game and we needed to turn the page so I must congratulate the coach and players,” Barca president Joan Laporta told Spanish television after the match.