MADRID: Mali international Seydou Keita scored a first ever hat-trick as champions Barcelona got back to their best, crushing Real Zaragoza 6-1 at Camp Nou on Sunday to move three points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table.
Barca had experienced a blip with a Champions League home defeat to Rubin Kazan in midweek but responded with a football masterclass to punish Real’s 0-0 draw at Sporting Gijon on Saturday. Keita scored a memorable hat-trick (24, 41, 86) to take his season’s tally to five while Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice and also had two goals ruled out for offside. Ibrahimovic joins Valencia’s David Villa at the top of the scoring charts on seven goals while Lionel Messi has six goals after scoring a fine chip.
Earlier Spanish international Villa returned with a bang scoring his seventh goal of the season as Valencia defeated 10-man Almeria 3-0 to move into the top four. Villa missed the 0-0 draw with Barcelona due to a thigh injury but started against Almeria and headed in on 54 minutes before Pablo Hernandez scored a sensational 35 yard chip and Juan Mata completed the scoring. Almeria’s cause was not helped by the dismissal of goalkeeper Diego Alves after an hour for fouling Pablo. Valencia supplant Deportivo La Coruna in fourth on goal difference with Sevilla just a point ahead in third.
Deportivo saw a four-game winning run come to an end in emphatic fashion, crashing
to a 4-0 defeat at Valladolid. Earlier Villarreal recorded their first win of the season with a first goal from Brazilian club record signing Nilmar and a free-kick from Joan Capdevilla sealing a much-needed 2-1 home win over Malaga.
Premiership
LONDON: Several of Premier League leaders Chelsea’s nearest pursuers lost ground in the title race as Liverpool ended a four-match losing streak with a 2-0 victory over champions Manchester United on Sunday.
Reigning champions United stayed in second place, two points behind the Blues, as Liverpool revived their faltering title bid with a 2-0 win thanks to second-half goals from Fernando Torres and substitute David Ngog. Arsenal missed the chance to close the gap on Chelsea to three points when, having gone 2-0 up against second-bottom West Ham, they saw the home side come back to force a 2-2 draw at Upton Park in a match where the Hammers finished a man down after Scott Parker was sent-off.
Manchester City, who could have gone fourth, squandered a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw at home to Fulham while, in Sunday’s other match, Bolton pulled further clear of the relegation zone with a 3-2 win over Everton at the Reebok Stadium.
In the all-London, Arsenal went ahead when West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green made a mess of Bacary Sagna’s cross, allowing Robin van Persie to shoot into the unguarded net. Van Persie then turned provider, Willaim Gallas heading in from the Dutch international’s corner in the 37th minute. But, with 16 minutes left, Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone could only parry Alessandro Diamanti’s free-kick and Carlton Cole’s follow-up header gave the Hammers hope. And, 10 minutes from time, they were level when, after Alex Song made minimal impact with Cole in the box, Diamanti equalised from the penalty spot.
Second-half goals from Joleon Lescott and Martin Petrov put Manchester City in front before impressive finishes from Damien Duff and Clint Dempsey helped visitors Fulham gain a point. Ivan Klasnic’s first Bolton goal sealed victory for the Trotters, who moved up five places into 12th spot. Bolton went 2-0 ahead through Lee Chung-Yong and Gary Cahill before Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini drew Everton level only for Klasnic to deny the Toffees a point.