Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Messi takes Barcelona 11 points clear, Ronaldo hits four

Messi takes Barcelona 11 points clear, Ronaldo hits four

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring in their La Liga match with Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou on Sunday. AFP
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring in their La Liga match with Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou on Sunday. AFP

Messi takes Barcelona 11 points clear, Ronaldo hits four

Lionel Messi delivered another masterful performance as Barcelona sailed past Athletic Bilbao 2-0 on Sunday to take an 11-point lead over nearest rivals Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

After putting Chelsea to the sword in the Champions League midweek, Messi scored for the sixth game in a row against Athletic at the Camp Nou to propel Barca closer to the domestic title.

“Every day he discovers something new, something different, he’s very aware of what he has to do, what the team needs from him at each moment,” Barca coach Erneste Valverde said of Messi, the Spanish league’s leading scorer this season with 25 goals.

“Many times it seems that the coach has to teach the players, but what the coach really does is learn alongside them as things go on. We hope to keep on learning together.”

Not to be outdone by his greatest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo then hit four goals as Real Madrid downed Girona 6-3 to move into third place, albeit still 15 points off Barcelona.

A dominant start from Barca yielded the opening goal after just eight minutes as Messi found Jordi Alba out on the left, his pull-back neatly side-footed into the far corner by Paco Alcacer, filling in for the suspended Luis Suarez.

The hosts looked a constant threat early on and Philippe Coutinho was denied a second when he rattled the woodwork, while Ousmane Dembele should have done much better with just Kepa Arrizabalaga to beat.

But the Athletic goalkeeper was powerless to keep out a crunching low drive from Messi on the half hour, the Argentine taking a touch to control a pass from Dembele before lashing home.

Coutinho, the club’s record signing, struck the woodwork for a second time as he tried to lob Kepa after latching onto a clever lofted pass from Paulinho, who then smacked a curling shot of his own against the upright.

Barca extended their unbeaten La Liga run to 36 matches dating back to last season, drawing to within two games of the record set Real Sociedad between 1979 and 1980.

“I would love to [break the record] but why carry on talking about it if we can lose, win or draw the next game,” Valverde said. “We’re not going to tempt fate. The next match in Seville will be a very difficult trip.”

Sevilla crashed to a 2-1 league defeat by Leganes just days after pulling off the surprise elimination of Manchester United in the Champions League.

The loss means Sevilla are increasingly unlikely to qualify for the Champions League through La Liga this season.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not