LA LIGA REVIEW

La Liga: Messi imperious as Barca thump Numancia

January 24, 2009
By Chris Murphy

Barcelona extended their lead at the top of La Liga to a massive 15 points after thumping Numancia 4-1 at the Camp Nou.

The first half was goalless, though Javier González Del Pino had the ball in the net for the visitors but the referee had blown, somewhat harshly, for a foul on Xavi.

But after the break Leo Messi got his 13th goal of the season after great work from Dani Alves.

Alves skipped into the box, looping the ball over left-back Boris before nodding it to Messi whose deft touch took the ball past 'keeper Juan Pablo Colinas.

It was 2-0 just minutes later when Samuel Eto'o raced onto a Andres Iniesta to clip home.

Numancia gave themselves hope when a fantastic Javier Barkero free-kick cut the defocit to just one.

But then Thierry Henry made it 3-1 with 20 minutes remaining. After being fed by Messi inside the area Henry squeezed a shot into the far corner.

Then Messi waltzed into the box and forced a save from Colinas. Unfortunately for the Numancia keeper, his save cannoned back onto Messi and left him with a tap in from three yards.

Messi had two chances to bag his hat-trick when he went clean through but Colinas, and then the bar, denied him.

Elsewhere, struggling Osasuna came back to draw 1-1 at Villarreal with a spirited Primera Liga performance at the Madrigal on Saturday.

The visitors were rewarded for their ambition when substitute Dady scored from close range following an error by Pascal Cygan in the 65th minute, cancelling out Giuseppe Rossi's stylish first-half opener.

Villarreal remained fifth with 34 points, kept out of the Champions League playoff places on goal difference by Valencia.

Osasuna climbed off the bottom of the table, drawing level on 14 points with Real Mallorca but going above them on goal difference.