Messi, Ronaldo shine for Barca, Madrid
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored twice to lead Barcelona and Real Madrid to comfortable wins in the Spanish league yesterday.
While Luis Suarez netted a hat-trick for Barcelona, Messi scored two superb goals to help beat Girona 6-1 and set a new club record of 32 consecutive Liga matches without a loss. That was one more than the streak in 2010-11 under Pep Guardiola.
Besides Ronaldo's double, Madrid also got goals from Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema to beat Alaves 4-0 and remain a distant third, 14 points adrift of Barcelona.
Barcelona lead second-place AtlÈtico Madrid by 10 points before the latter face a tough trip to Sevilla today.
Messi set up Suarez's first goal to cancel out the early opener by Girona's Cristian "Portu" Portuguese.
Messi then danced around two defenders inside the box to give Barcelona the lead on the half-hour mark. Two defenders seemed to have boxed him in as he tried to get by going to his right, so Messi quickly changed direction and sped around both until he opened up a slot to fire in his first goal.
Messi took his league-leading tally to 22 goals, with Suarez next at 20.
While nobody doubts the importance of Ronaldo for Madrid, both Benzema and Bale have disappointed this season. That has led to calls for others like Francisco "Isco" Alarcon and Marco Asensio to take their place.
But coach Zinedine Zidane has stuck by Benzema and Bale in an unpredictable season.
The trio, supported by the incisive play of Lucas Vazquez, made the difference against an Alaves side that had been playing well over the last two months under new coach Abelardo Fernandez.