Messi scores double as Barça keep pace in LaLiga title hunt; Atletico win

Barcelona, Apr 22 (EFE).- FC Barcelona got two first-half goals from superstar Lionel Messi and then pulled away in the late stages to defeat Getafe 5-2 here Thursday and stay in the running for a possible LaLiga title.

Messi nearly opened the scoring in the third minute at Camp Nou on a shot from the edge of the area that ricocheted off the crossbar and then put his team ahead five minutes later after receiving a pass from Sergio Busquets.

The lead didn’t last long, however, as a shot by Getafe’s Marc Cucurella in the area hit off Barça’s Clement Lenglet and into the net in the 12th minute.

The home side regained the lead due to a Getafe defensive blunder in the 28th minute. On the play, defender Sofian Chakla didn’t realize that David Soria had come off his line and sent the ball rolling past him and over the goal line despite the net minder’s desperate attempt to track it down.

Messi then added to Barça’s lead in the 33rd minute with a little bit of his patented magic, first sending a stylish volley off the far post and then gathering the rebound and scoring from what seemed like an impossible angle.

In the second half, Getafe put a bit of a scare into the home side when Turkish substitute Enes Unal was fouled in the area and converted the penalty chance in the 69th minute to cut the lead to 3-2.

But the Catalans effectively put the game away in minute 87 when Ronald Araujo rose up high to head home a corner kick and then Antoine Griezmann converted a penalty chance after being fouled in the box in second-half stoppage time.

Earlier Thursday, Angel Correa scored a key goal late in the first half to help lift Atletico Madrid to a 2-0 win over Huesca at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in the Spanish capital and send the Colchoneros back into first place in the LaLiga standings.

Huesca had a golden opportunity to score in the third minute of the contest when a cross from the left side ended up at the feet of Dimitris Siovas just a meter from the goal line.

But the Greek defender’s left-footed shot from point-blank range was denied by star net minder Jan Oblak, who batted the ball down and then dove on it to end the threat.

Huesca goalie Alvaro Fernandez also was up to the task early on, snuffing out back-to-back attempts – by Yannick Carrasco and Saul – from virtually the same spot in the penalty area in the 10th minute.

But there was nothing he could do to stop a 39th-minute strike by Correa, who received a pass from Marcos Llorente with his back to the goal, eluded one defender and then fired a blast that hit off one defender and bounced over the line just inside the right post.

Atletico then had the majority of chances in the second half and got their reward in the 80th minute when Llorente took advantage of some shoddy defending by Huesca to steal the ball and set up Carrasco for a close-range score.

After Wednesday’s and Thursday’s results in LaLiga, the four-team race to the title is now heating up in earnest.

Atletico have the lead with 73 points and 32 of 38 games played. But second-place Real Madrid are just three points behind and Barça are only five points back and have a game in hand on the Madrid clubs.

Fourth-place Sevilla also are in the running for their first title since the 1945-46 season, standing in fourth place with 67 points and six games remaining on their schedule. EFE


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