Another Exhibition from Barcelona, a Late Win for Valencia

Madrid, Dec 19 (DPA) Barcelona turned on the style yet again to thrash Espanyol 5-1 in a one-sided Catalan derby, with two goals apiece from winger Pedro and striker David Villa and one from playmaker Xavi.

Pablo Osvaldo pulled a goal back for Espanyol but the hosts - who had won all their previous home matches - were incapable of turning the tables on their illustrious neighbours Saturday.

It was Barca's 10th consecutive league win and confirms their imperious form. They now have 43 points from 16 games and have scored 50 goals, leaving them on course to break all the records.

They are five points above Real Madrid, who are at home to troubled Sevilla Sunday.

Barca coach Pep Guardiola said: "We have beaten a very good team. It is a good night for us. My team continues to surprise me, and this gives me tranquility for the future."

Mauricio Pochettino, coach of Espanyol, said" "Barca were almost perfect tonight, it is impossible to stop them when thery play like this."

Lionel Messi should have given Barca an early lead but the chance fell to his weaker right foot and he blasted over. But Pedro made no mistake in the 19th minute when played through by Messi, making it 1-0 with a cool finish.

Xavi made it 2-0 on the half hour with a low cross-shot, after a series of mistakes from the over-worked Espanyol defence.

The one-way traffic continued into the second half, and Pedro added a third after Espanyol keeper Carlos Kameni had dropped a long shot from Messi.

Osvaldo then pulled a goal back for Espanyol after speeding away from ageing Barca captain Carles Puyol. The hosts poured forward more in hope than expectation but left gaps at the back which Villa cruelly exploited with two late goals.

It was Barca's biggest away win against their neighbours in almost 50 years. So impressive was their performance that they were actually applauded off by the Espanyol fans.

Earlier Saturday, Villarreal had held on to third place with a 3-1 home defeat of Mallorca, with goals from Santi Cazorla, Guiseppe Rossi and Nilmar.

Villarreal now have 33 points from 16 games, which is five more than Valencia and Espanyol, who share fourth place.

Valencia battled out a last-gasp 2-1 win away to Real Sociedad in Saturday's late games.

Xabi Prieto gave Sociedad the lead from a disputed penalty. Tino Costa levelled for Valencia with a fierce free-kick from his powerful left foot, Aritz Aduriz made it 2-1 for the visitors with a classy goal in injury time, taking advantage of a schoolboy error from Sociedad keeper Claudio Bravo.

Valencia and Espanyol are three points above Athletic Bilbao, who moved up to sixth with a 2-1 win away to troubled Levante, on goals from Igor Gabilondo and Javi Martinez.

Levante are now fifth from bottom and facing their usual relegation struggle.

With three points less than Levante are Sporting Gijon, who did well to battle out a 1-1 draw away to Deportivo Coruna.

Aythami Oliva gave Deportivo an early lead but Gijon fought back bravely and earned a point thanks to a late strike from Diego Castro.

Gijon are still second from bottom but are now three points above bottom team Zaragoza.



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