| Lionel Messi shoots a back volley against Getafe, on Sunday. (Getty images) |
Madrid: Lionel Messi notched up his 35th league goal of the season as a depleted Barcelona strolled to a crushing 6-1 win at home over Getafe that put them 12 points clear at the top of La Liga on Sunday.
Alexis Sanchez and David Villa made the most of a rare place in the starting line-up with goals either side of Messi’s strike. Andres Iniesta, Cristian Tello and Gerard Pique were also on the scoresheet as Barca racked up a 20th victory in 23 matches this term to move on to 62 points.
Atletico Madrid have 50 points in second place, four ahead of third-placed Real Madrid, who thrashed Sevilla 4-1 at the Bernabeu on Saturday.
Barca’s interim coach Jordi Roura, standing in for Tito Vilanova who is recovering from throat surgery, rested several key players for Getafe’s visit to the Nou Camp, including Spain trio Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets.
Alexis struck in the sixth minute, Messi made it 2-0 seven minutes later and Villa put the game well beyond Getafe, who are 12th on 29 points, with a third just before the hour.
Messi surged forward and laid the ball off for substitute Tello to curl in a fourth 11 minutes from time before a mistake from Jordi Alba let in Alvaro Vazquez to pull a goal back for the visitors in the 83rd minute.
Iniesta picked up a loose ball and fired in from close range in the 90th and Pique rounded off the party in the second minute of added time with a tap-in from Thiago Alcantara’s unselfish layoff.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid assistant manager Aitor Karanka believes his side are hitting form at the right time as they swept aside Sevilla 4-1 thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick.
The Spanish champions take on Manchester United on Wednesday in the first-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and Karanka is hoping Ronaldo can carry his recent form into the clash against his former club.
“Cristiano has had the love of the crowd here for some time. The important thing though is for the team to have a player like Cristiano in this form heading into the period we now have,” he said on Saturday.
Coach Jose Mourinho had taken the chance to rest a few important players with Wednesday’s game in mind, but it mattered little as Karim Benzema put the hosts in front from barely a yard on 17 minutes before Ronaldo fired a fierce drive past Beto in the Sevilla goal eight minutes later.
The Portuguese captain rounded off his 20th hat-trick in a Real jersey with two goals in 14 minutes after half-time before a red card for Gonzalo Higuain and Manu del Moral’s late consolation soured an otherwise comfortable night for Mourinho’s men.