Barcelona extend lead with ‘rout’ over Getafe Ronaldo-inspired Madrid ready for United

MADRID, Feb 10, (AFP): Barcelona extended their advantage at the top of La Liga to 12 points with an easy 6-1 win over Getafe on Sunday. The game was over as a contest inside 13 minutes as Alexis Sanchez slotted home from Andres Iniesta’s through ball before Lionel Messi fired in his 46th goal of the season. David Villa and Cristian Tello then added further goals after half-time before Alvaro Vasquez pulled one back for the visitors with a calm finish. However, Barca continued to pour forward and goals from Iniesta and Gerard Pique in stoppage time gave the scoreline a fairer reflection of their dominance.
In the continued absence of Tito Vilanova through illness, Barca assistant boss Jordi Roura made six changes to the side that started last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Valencia.

Out went the injured Xavi along with Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro as Alex Song, Thiago Alcantara, Alexis Sanchez and David Villa were given rare starts. And it was Sanchez who made the breakthrough after just five minutes as a wonderful defence splitting pass from Iniesta put the Chilean through on goal and he slotted the ball past Jordi Codina to register his first league goal of the season. Seven minutes later it was two as another magnificent pass from Iniesta was knocked into Messi’s path by Thiago and the Argentine found the bottom corner to continue his record streak of scoring in 13 straight league games.

The waves of Barcelona attack continued to pound the Getafe defence and Codina did well to block Sanchez’s effort from a narrow angle before Messi nearly connected with Villa’s fine cross. Real Madrid assistant manager Aitor Karanka believes his side are hitting form at the right time as they swept aside Sevilla 4-1 thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. The Spanish champions take on Manchester United on Wednesday in the first-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and Karanka is hoping Ronaldo can carry his recent form into the clash against his former club.

Coach Jose Mourinho had taken the chance to rest a few important players with Wednesday’s game in mind, but it mattered little as Karim Benzema put the hosts in front from barely a yard on 17 minutes before Ronaldo fired a fierce drive past Beto in the Sevilla goal eight minutes later. The Portuguese captain rounded off his 20th hat-trick in a Madrid jersey with two goals in 14 minutes after half-time before a red card for Gonzalo Higuain and Manu del Moral’s late consolation soured an otherwise comfortable night for Mourinho’s men.

Thoughts now turn to their attempt at a 10th European crown and Karanka is hopeful that playing 18 hours ahead of United this weekend could make a difference. “You notice a day extra rest and it has been good with the changes we made to also give a rest to some important players. We will see what players they play tomorrow,” said Karanka, a reference to United’s league clash with Everton on Sunday.
Sevilla boss Unai Emery was far more concerned at what he saw as his side making things easy for Madrid.”

The win moved Madrid back to within four points of city rivals Atletico and 13 off Barcelona, with the top two set to take on Rayo Vallecano and Getafe respectively on Sunday. Malaga maintained their place in fourth after they came from behind to beat Levante 2-1 thanks to two goals from Isco. Valencia, who have a Champions League date against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, remain just two points adrift of the Andalusians as Nelson Valdez’s stoppage time header handed them a 1-0 away win at Celta Vigo. Mallorca began life under Gregorio Manzano with a 1-1 draw against Osasuna but Deportivo La Coruna lost 3-0 at home to Granada to remain bottom.

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