Saturday, 19 November 2011

Barcelona crush struggling Zaragoza 4-0

Two goals in either half from four different scorers helped Barcelona to an emphatic 4-0 win over Real Zaragoza at Camp Nou on Saturday evening. Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol and David Villa were all on target as Javier Aguirre's side were comfortably beaten.

Barcelona's precision passing game kept Zaragoza on the backfoot as the three-time defending champions had little trouble extending their excellent start to 19 games without a loss this season.

While Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola left Villa and Andres Iniesta on the bench to begin the game, with his team set to play AC Milan on Wednesday in the Champions League, he started Messi despite his recent matches and travels with Argentina.

That changed in the 18th minute when the Catalan side opened the scoring in simple fashion. On-loan Celtic player Efrain Juarez fouled Cesc Fabregas deep in the Zaragoza half and the resulting free kick from the left-hand side saw Xavi whip a fantastic cross into the six-yard box for Gerard Pique to power home.

"Sometimes it is good to take advantage of set-pieces when teams play back in defense," said Pique, adding that he wasn't concerned with Real Madrid's top form. "We just have to focus on ourselves. There is a lot of league left to play."

Barcelona came close to doubling their lead on the half-hour mark, but a fantastic double save from Roberto kept the home side at bay. Lionel Messi drove into the box and stabbed a shot at the bottom left corner, only for the Zaragoza goalkeeper to get down and make an excellent save, not before getting up quickly to deny Alexis Sanchez by saving with his feet.

Guardiola's side did manage to get their second goal and it came three minutes before half-time. Zaragoza left Messi completely unmarked in the box and this allowed Xavi to thread a pass through the defence for the Argentine, who then sidestepped past Maurizio Lanzano and smashed the ball into the bottom left corner with his weaker foot. It was the star's 50th goal for Barcelona in 2011.

The home side continued their domination after the break, and took just ten minutes to get their third goal of the match. Fabregas found space in midfield and clipped a pass to the back post for Seydou Keita, who headed back across goal where Carles Puyol stood. The Barcelona captain chested down and attempted to half-volley at goal but Roberto made a brave point-blank save. From the resulting scuffle on the line, Puyol managed to slide the ball over the line.

Substitute David Villa silenced his recent critics with an opportunistic goal in the 74th minute to give his side a four-goal advantage. B-teamer Isaac Cuenca took advantage of a poor clearance from on-loan Real Madrid David Mateos to pick up the ball and drive down the wing and send a cross to the back post for the former Zaragoza striker, who scored with a powerful diving header.

Zaragoza failed to draw a single save from goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Barcelona have outscored their league opponents at Camp Nou 30-0 in seven games this season.

Pep Guardiola's side now have 28 points in La Liga, while Javier Aguirre's troops still find themselves perilously above the relegation zone in 16th place, with 10 points taken from 12 games.

Elsewhere, Borja Valero's first-half goal gave Villarreal a 1-0 win over visiting Real Betis for their third win of the season.

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