Who needs Messi? Barcelona's big win sends warning to PSG

Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 7:33pm

While Zlatan Ibrahimovic showed more evidence of his importance to Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday, Barcelona responded with an ominous warning of the club's powers even without Lionel Messi.

With the four-time world player of the year battling to be fit for Wednesday's visit by the French league leaders, having injured his hamstring in last week's 2-2 draw, Cesc Fabregas put up his hand for a role in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal.

In a Messi-esque performance, the Spain midfielder took his chance to impress as he scored his first hat-trick for Barcelona in a 5-0 thrashing of Mallorca that kept the Catalan side 13 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid in La Liga.

Alexis Sanchez, another midfielder who has struggled to consistently impress since his 2011 arrival at the Camp Nou, chimed in with the other two goals.

The match was also notable for the second-half introduction of French defender Eric Adibal, making his first senior appearance since his liver transplant last April.

By that stage Tito Vilanova's side, much-changed from the trip to Paris, were already five goals ahead as both Fabregas and Sanchez netted twice in the opening period, toying with the visiting defense.

Fabregas was taken off as a precaution after completing his treble with an assist from Andres Iniesta, but Sanchez hobbled off late with an injury that casts doubt on his fitness for the PSG clash.

Barca hope to have Messi back for that match, as his injury is not as bad as feared.

The Argentine netted the opening goal of the first leg, his 57th this season, but it was Ibrahimovic who had the last word as he set up a late equalizer.

The Sweden forward, who was able to play -- and also score -- last week after having his European suspension halved, has now netted 26 league goals this season following another opportunistic effort in Saturday's 2-0 win at Rennes.

Ibrahimovic finished off from close range in time added on after halftime substitute David Beckham chipped the keeper, denying the veteran Englishman his first goal since signing in January.

Jeremy Menez had earlier scored a fine individual goal as Qatar-funded PSG moved seven points clear at the top of the table after the club's first win at Rennes since 2002.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, came from behind to crush Levante 5-1 as Mesut Ozil scored two late goals after fellow substitute Cristiano Ronaldo also netted -- his 29th in the league, second best behind Messi's 43.

Striker Gonzalo Higuain volleyed a spectacular equalizer while Kaka put Real 2-1 ahead at the break with a penalty.

It continued Real's form from last week's 3-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray, ahead of Tuesday's trip to Turkey.

The Istanbul side went seven points clear in the Turkish Super League on Saturday with a 3-1 win at home to Mersin, as veteran striker Didier Drogba scored twice.

Real Sociedad consolidated fourth place in Spain with a 4-2 win against Malaga which established a four-point lead over the visitors with eight games to play.

It dented any hopes Malaga have of playing in next season's Champions League -- if the club's appeal against a suspension for financial fair play discrepancies is successful -- and placed even more importance on Tuesday's second leg of the quarterfinal tie away to German side Borussia Dortmund, which is level at 0-0.

Juventus bounced back from last week's Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich by moving 12 points clear in Italy's Serie A with a 2-1 win over bottom club Pescara on Saturday.

Montenegro striker Mirko Vucinic scored two late goals before a long-range effort from Emmanuel Cascione ensured a tense finish.

Second-placed Napoli host Genoa on Sunday, when third-placed AC Milan travel to Fiorentina.

 

The-CNN-Wire/Atlanta/+1-404-827-WIRE(9473)
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News

Comments News Comments

Post new Comment