Barcelona hit five again in derby victory over Espanyol

Saturday, December 18, 2010
Leaders Barcelona scored five goals away at their city rivals Espanyol for the first time as they made light of a potentially tricky city derby on Saturday. Pedro and David Villa scored two apiece and Xavi added the other as Barcelona made it 10 wins in a row, extending their unbeaten run to 22 and notching a remarkable tally of 29 goals in their past six La Liga matches.

Espanyol's Pablo Osvaldo had briefly threatened something of a comeback making it 3-1 in the 63rd, when he became the first player to beat Victor Valdes in seven games, but the ever-hungry Barca snuffed out their revival with two more goals.

"My team never ceases to surprise me," Barça's coach Pep Guardiolasaid. "Espanyol had only conceded two goals at home. It's a great night for us because we were aware we were playing a great team. It's no coincidence that we have struggled here a lot in recent times."

The champions have 43 points from 16 games in La Liga going into the winter break and opened up a five-point gap over second-placed Real Madrid, who do not play until Sunday when Sevilla visit the Bernabéu. Earlier, Villarreal broke clear in third with a 3-1 victory over Real Mallorca, climbing on to 33 points, five ahead of Valencia and Espanyol.

Espanyol fans gave Barça's Andres Iniesta a standing ovation before kick-off and later when he was substituted, in recognition of the Spain midfielder's gesture after scoring the winning goal in the World Cup final. Iniesta took off his shirt to reveal a vest with a dedication to former Espanyol captain Dani Jarque, who died of a heart failure last year aged 26.

Espanyol, who had held Barça to a 0-0 draw in the corresponding fixture last year and boasted a 100% home record at the start of the day, worked hard to take the game to their visitors.

Lionel Messi uncharacteristically shot over an empty net early on but made amends soon after when he played Pedro through on goal to score the opener in the 19th minute. Xavi volleyed in from a tight angle as the hosts struggled to clear their lines in the 30th and Messi burst away from his markers to shoot on the hour. When Carlos Kameni could only parry his shot Pedro raced in to poach the third.

Osvaldo broke free to beat Valdes soon afterwards, lifting the home team but their high defensive line was punctured twice more. Messi and then Xavi sent Villa scampering clear and the Spain striker gave Kameni no chance in the one-on-ones.

Valencia moved above Espanyol on goal difference into fourth place after Aritz Aduriz pounced on an error to net a last-minute goal for a 2-1 win at Real Sociedad in the late game.

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