El Centrocampista

Fifty up for Messi as drama heads into last day: La Liga Round-Up and Highlights

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

The race for Europe and the fight for survival will both go into the final weekend of the 2011/12 la liga season after a dramatic week 37 in Spain’s top flight.

Lionel Messi reached 50 league goals for the campaign as he  smashed in four during  Barcelona’s 4-0 romp over city rivals Espanyol on an emotional night at the Camp Nou. The Argentine maestro gave coach Pep Guardiola the perfect send off as he took charge of his last home game for the club after four years in charge, and a visibly-moved Guardiola could not have asked for more from his players as they brushed aside their lacklustre neighbours.

Messi opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he fired a sublime free kick past the stranded Cristian Alvarez in the Espanyol goal. Mauricio Pochettino’s side managed to keep the score at 1-0 until the 64th minute when Cristian Gomez was adjudged to have handled in the area, leaving Messi to step up and convert the spot kick for his second of the game.

The current World Footballer of the Year completed his hat-trick 10 minutes later after a delightful first touch sent him clear to beat Alvarez at his far post, before finally finishing the scoring from the spot with 10 minutes left to play

Newly-crowned champions, Real Madrid came from behind to beat Granada 2-1 at a rain-soaked Los Carmenes. The hosts enjoyed the perfect start to the game as Franco Jara put them ahead after just four minutes; a lead they held until the 80th minute when Jose Mourinho’s side finally brought themselves level through a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. The game looked to be heading for stalemate until David Cortes put through his own goal deep into stoppage time to leave Granada still in danger of relegation as they travel to Rayo Vallecano next weekend.

Jose Ramon Sandoval’s Rayo meanwhile, are in grave danger of the drop themselves after suffering a 5-2 mauling against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Baba put Sevilla ahead on the half hour before Diego Costa leveled from the spot for the Madrid side. The hosts then scored two goals either side of half-time; first through Cala then a second for Baba two minutes after the restart.

Jose Antonio Reyes made it 4-1 with 25 minutes to go before Diego Costa got his second for Rayo to reduce the deficit. There was to be no fightback however, and Freddie Kanoute finished the scoring in the final 10 minutes to consign Rayo to their fifth straight defeat.

Atletico Madrid moved to within two points of fourth-placed Malaga after a late fightback beat the Andalucians 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon. Eliseu’s 37th minute effort  looked to have secured the victory that would have guarenteed Champions League football for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, until Koke equalised for Atleti with 20 minutes remaining.  Adrian then won the game for Diego Simeone’s side with 10 minutes left on the clock; setting up a tense final day for both teams.

Mallorca secured their fourth win in five games to jump into sixth place after a 1-0 home win against Levante. Tomas Pina scored the game’s only goal 10 minutes into the second half to leave Joaquin Caparros’ side in with a great shout of clinching European football next season. The islanders travel to the Bernabeu next weekend, hoping to continue their recent good form.

Valencia claimed third-place with a late victory of relegation-threatened Villarreal at the Mestalla. The visitors are still deep in trouble at the bottom after Jonas gave Unai Emery his last home victory as Valencia coach two minutes into time added on.

Real Zaragoza continued their amazing revival as they beat an already-relegated Racing 2-1 to move to within three points of salvation. The Cantabrians silenced the home crowd when Christian put them ahead on 11 minutes; a lead which lasted only two minutes as Helder Postiga netted for the home side. Zaragoza dominated the second half as they looked for the critical second goal that would send them into the final day of the season still hopeful of survival, but they had to wait until 11 minutes from time before Angel Lafita netted to send La Romareda into raptures.

Sporting Gijon also kept their hopes of survival alive as they beat Pep Mel’s Real Betis 2-1 at El Molinon. Sangoy put the hosts ahead when the striker converted a 12th minute penalty, before some hard work from Betis was finally rewarded when Jorge Molina struck seconds before the break.

Sangoy then got his second of the game nine minutes after the restart and despite a tense atmosphere, Javier Clemente’s side hung on to record a vital win. Sporting travel to Malaga next weekend in a must-win game for both sides.

In the day’s ther games, a 12th minute Ibrahima strike was enough to give Osasuna to the points against Real Sociedad in Pamplona, and Athletic Club were held to a goal less draw by Getafe at San Mames.





















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