Tag Archives: Barcelona

Barca leapfrogs Sevilla to close in on Real

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With a strong 3-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao, defending Spanish champions FC Barcelona sends a message to Real Madrid that they are not to take comfort in their table leader position.

Their victory at Camp Nou meant that they are now second place in La Liga and within one point from Real, leapfrogging Sevilla, who failed to defeat Villareal on home ground.

With Luis Suarez rested, Paco Alcacer made a rare starting appearance and scored his first La Liga goal for Barcelona when he turned home Neymar’s cross from 10 yards.

Lionel Messi put Barca in a comfortable position five minutes before half-time, doubling the Catalans’ lead when he beat Athletic keeper Gorka Iraizoz at his near post from a right-wing free-kick.

Aleix Vidal sealed the victory after an inspiring individual run past several defenders.

His goal meant that Barca is now the first European team to score 100 times in all competitions this season, with Ligue club Monaco also reaching the landmark later in the afternoon.

While Barca is now just a point within Real Madrid, the European champions still have two games in hand after their scheduled match away to Celta Vigo was postponed due to storm damage to the Balaidos stadium.

Sevilla, two points behind Barca after failing to win against Villareal, could also rise past Real if Los Blancos fail to win at Osasuna next week.

Messi dazzles to rescue Barcelona from consecutive defeats

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Lionel Messi scored a sublime last-minute free-kick to rescue a point for FC Barcelona and deny Villarreal a famous win on Sunday.

With the entire team looking sluggish for lengthy periods, Luis Suarez and Neymar wasted good chances, and as the visitors were caught out at the back Villarreal scored with a slick counter from Nicola Sansone – who fired the hosts ahead with a low angled from Alexandre Pato’s threaded pass.

Messi found the woodwork and Barca were denied a penalty when Bruno handled a shot by the Argentina forward. The Catalans searched desperately for an equalizer to no avail before Messi’s brilliant set-piece goal.

Villarreal, who remained fifth in La Liga with the 1-1 result, had full-back Jaume Costa sent off close to full-time after a second yellow card.

Despite Messi’s late heroics, this was a damaging result for Barcelona in their first league game after the winter break. Fresh from the midweek Copa del Rey first-leg defeat Athletic Bilbao, the draw at Villarreal leaves Barcelona third in the table, a point behind Sevilla and five off in form-Real Madrid, who also have a game in hand.

While Athletic were held to a goalless draw by Alaves, Real easily swept aside Granada by 5-0 the day before, equalling Barca’s own 39-match unbeaten record set last season.

Furthermore, Suarez remains on 99 goals for Barca after a frustrating match in which he was presented with several chances to score the landmark goal.

Villarreal were getting ready to celebrate a first win in nine years against their opponents when Messi, who had been fouled by Bruno, found the top corner with an exquisite finish to rescue a point.

Lionel Messi meets Afghan boy with homemade plastic jersey

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Murtaza Ahmadi, an Afghan boy who became an internet sensation after being photographed in a homemade replica of Lionel Messi’s famous football strip, has finally come face-to-face with his idol.

Pictures had emerged on January this year of the then five-year-old wearing a blue-and-white striped plastic bag to emulate the colours of the Argentinian team.

On the back of the bag was scrawled Messi’s name and shirt number.

The pictures went viral and, after “Messi’s biggest fan” was identified and tracked down to Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province, efforts were made to bring Murtaza and the Barcelona star together.

A video tweeted by the organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar shows the Argentinian forward scooping up Murtaza, now six, and posing for photographers in a meeting arranged through the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

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Murtaza Ahmadi meeting his idol, Lionel Messi.

“The image the world wanted to see,” tweeted the Supreme Committee on Tuesday. “The six-year-old boy who dreamed of meeting his hero, #Messi, finally comes true.”

Murtaza and Messi met in Doha and the boy walked out on to the pitch with Messi on Tuesday night when Barcelona play Al-Ahli.

The boy’s unexpected fame has not been entirely welcome. After receiving constant telephone threats, the family was eventually forced to flee to Quetta in neighbouring Pakistan.

Murtaza’s father, Mohammad Arif Ahmadi, said he feared that his son would be kidnapped. The family first travelled to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, but could not settle there because of the high cost of living. They later moved to Quetta.

“I sold all my belongings and brought my family out of Afghanistan to save my son’s life as well as the lives of the rest of the family,” he said in May.

Despite the upheaval, he added at the time: “Murtaza hopes that one day he would be able to meet his hero, Messi.”

Barca narrowly defeats Sevilla to keep pace with Real Madrid

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FC Barcelona narrowly defeated Sevilla in La Liga thanks to goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, which in turn kept them in contention with Real Madrid.

However, the defending Spanish champions looked set to lose ground on their rivals when Vitolo deservedly put Sevilla ahead at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan after some poor defensive play from Sergi Roberto but Barca hit back just before half-time through Messi.

The Argentinian side-footed past Sergio Rico from the edge of the area, though there was a suspicion of offside against Ivan Rakitic, and he also sets up Luis Suarez’s 61st-minute winner.

Luis Enrique’s team were dominated in the first half, but created numerous chances after the break as they started to open up their opponent’s defence. As a result, Sevilla were overawed in the second half, but did go close when former Blackburn player Steven Nzonzi headed narrowly wide of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s left-hand upright.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid enjoyed better circumstances in maintaining their two-point lead on top of the La Liga table with an easy 3-0 victory over Leganes.

Gareth Bale latched on to Isco’s pass and, with the aid of a lucky ricochet, took the ball past Leganes keeper Jon Ander Serantes and slotted into the unguarded net, before pouncing to stab in a second from close range just before half-time.

Alvaro Morata added a third in the 76th minute to secure Real’s fourth straight win.