x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Mighty Messi exacts revenge for Barcelona at Hercules

Lionel Messi scores two late goals as the Catalans move seven points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the Primera Liga.

Lionel Messi takes a shot during Barca's 3-0 victory against Hercules.
Lionel Messi takes a shot during Barca's 3-0 victory against Hercules.

Lionel Messi scored two late goals as Barcelona beat 10-man Hercules 3-0 to preserve their 100 per cent away record in the Primera Liga and move seven points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table.

Pedro gave Barca the lead two minutes before the interval, but the win was still in doubt until Messi’s late intervention, with the Argentina forward bagging two goals — after Javier Farinos had been sent off — in the last three minutes to give the Catalans a comfortable victory.

The win erased memories of Barca’s surprise home defeat at the hands of the promoted side earlier on in the campaign and put them seven clear of Real, who visit Osasuna tomorrow.

Laure’s late equaliser secured a dramatic 3-3 draw for Deportivo La Coruna after 10-man Sevilla had battled from two goals down to lead at the Riazor.

Lassad Nouioui’s superb strike lit up an otherwise dull first half and his second goal, soon after the 58th-minute dismissal of Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop, looked to have put the hosts on course to end their three-game losing run.

However, that sparked the visitors into life and two goals from Alvaro Negredo and one from Julien Escude turned the game on its head in a stunning second-half.

And there was still time for Laure to have the final word, shooting across the substitute goalkeeper Javi Varas to salvage a point for Depor despite off-side protestations from the visitors.

Sporting Gijon secured their first Primera Liga away win of the season in emphatic fashion as they thrashed Real Mallorca 4-0 at the Iberostar Stadium to continue their recent revival.

The Asturians had won their last two league games to climb out of the relegation zone, but had failed to win any of their away matches prior to this one. That changed with goals from Diego Castro, Roberto Canella, Andre Castro and Nacho Novo.

Levante climbed off the foot of the standings by ending a run of five successive league defeats with a 2-0 victory over Getafe.

Two goals at the start of the second-half set Levante on their way to only a fifth league win of the campaign, with Valmiro Valdo scoring in the 47th minute and Felipe Caicedo doubling their lead seven minutes later.

Both teams ended the match with 10 men, Getafe’s Manu del Moral and Xisco Nadal of Levante handed their marching orders following an incident between the two with 12 minutes to go, but it did not affect the home side as they held on for three precious points.

Goals from Jon Ansotegui and Raul Tamudo earned Real Sociedad the spoils in a 2-0 win over lowly Almeria in tough conditions at a rain-drenched Anoeta.

Ansotegui opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time and then, with growing pools of water on the pitch making life difficult for both teams, Tamudo sealed the win with Sociedad’s second 12 minutes from full-time.

The victory means promoted Sociedad, who had lost five of their previous six games, are now 11 points clear of 18th-placed Almeria and the relegation zone.

A late strike from Florent Sinama-Pongolle saw Real Zaragoza complete a memorable comeback to win 2-1 at Malaga, securing their third straight Primera Liga win to continue their recent revival under Mexican coach Javier Aguirre.

Duda put Malaga ahead after 15 minutes, but Nicolas Bertolo equalised before Sinama-Pongolle’s winner.