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Ronaldo-less Real drubs Depor while Messi triggers Barca blitz

China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-28 07:07

BARCELONA, Spain - Real Madrid again made light of the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo as it crushed Deportivo la Coruna 6-2 to maintain the upper hand in the La Liga title race on Wednesday.

Madrid and Barcelona are locked on 78 points at the top of the standings, but Real has a game in hand over its title rival.

Barca remains on top thanks to its better head-to-head record as Lionel Messi struck twice to relegate Osasuna in a 7-1 thrashing.

Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane made nine changes from the lineup that lost 3-2 to Barca on Sunday to reignite the title race.

Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and the injured Gareth Bale were left off the Madrid roster for a third straight away league game, but again their absence wasn't missed.

"It is the hardest job for a coach. When they play like they did today, then maybe they won't play in the next game," said Zidane.

"We know I have a phenomenal group of players and all of them are ready for the challenge between now and the end of the season."

Alvaro Morata smashed home at the near post to give Real the perfect start after less than a minute.

James Rodriguez then added a second from Lucas Vazquez's cross as the visitor threatened to run riot inside the first 20 minutes.

However, the European champion has now managed just one shutout in its past 15 games as its defense was breached once more when Florin Andone turned home Gael Kakuta's misfire 10 minutes before the break.

'Thank you, Leo!'

Before kickoff at Camp Nou, Barca fans paid homage to Messi's stoppage-time Clasico winner on Sunday, the Argentine's 500th goal for the club, with a huge banner which read "Thank you, Leo!".

Messi responded to the adulation, pouncing on an error to stroll through the defense and lift the ball over advancing goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu in the 12th minute.

Andre Gomes has been the scapegoat for many of Barca's losses this season, but the former Valencia midfielder had arguably his best night in a Barca shirt as he drilled home an Ivan Rakitic cross to make it 2-0 in the 30th minute.

"We had the chance to use a lot of players that have played fewer minutes," said Barca boss Luis Enrique. "It is a game that boosts those individuals, the team as a whole, and gives us hope for the end of the season."

Roberto Torres' penalty briefly brought Osasuna back into the game three minutes into the second half.

Barca, though, simply went through the gears with a four-goal outburst in 10 devastating minutes.

First, Gomes slotted home his second of the night after Gerard Pique's initial effort came back off the post.

Messi then curled in his 49th goal in 47 appearances this term from the edge of the area.

The Argentine instantly made way for 19-year-old Carles Alena in order to stay fresh for Saturday's Catalan derby at Espanyol.

Paco Alcacer also bagged a brace - Barca's fifth and seventh goals either side of Javier Mascherano's first goal for the club in 319 appearances, seven years after joining from Liverpool.

The Argentine ended his long wait from the penalty spot in the 67th minute.

Osasuna's relegation was confirmed after Leganes beat Las Palmas 3-0 to move six points clear of relegation.

Elsewhere, Real Sociedad boosted its chances of qualifying for the Europa League with a 3-2 win at Valencia.

Agence France-Presse

 Ronaldo-less Real drubs Depor while Messi triggers Barca blitz

Lionel Messi fires home for Barcelona during its 7-1 rout of Osasuna at Camp Nou, Barcelona, on Wednesday. The Argentine superstar struck twice to help keep Barca atop the La Liga standings. Manu Fernandez / Ap

(China Daily 04/28/2017 page22)

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