Atletico chase Barca, as Messi surpasses Pele
MADRID (AFP) –
Atletico Madrid held firm in second place in La Liga, three points behind leaders Barcelona, after beating Getafe 2-0 at home on Sunday.
Adrian Lopez and Arda Turan got first-half goals for Atletico in a Madrid derby that they controlled from start to finish.
In a first-half of few chances, Adrian opened the scoring from close range after first seeing his header blocked by Getafe keeper Miguel Angel Moya.
Turan was fortunate not to be penalised for handball before hitting the second just before the interval.
There was no way back for Getafe who played the final twenty minutes with ten-men after centre-half Rafa limped off after his side had already made three substitutions.
Earlier Lionel Messi struck twice as leaders Barcelona survived a second-half spell of pressure at Mallorca to win 4-2.
Xavi Hernandez, Messi and Cristian Tello got first-half goals for the Catalans before Victor Casadesus and Michael Pereira reduced the lead after the interval.
Messi then hit his fifteenth in the league to wrap up the game and make it 76 goals now in 2012, beating Pele’s tally of 75 from 1958 and taking him to within nine of Gerd Muller’s all-time record of 85 set in 1972.
Mallorca enjoyed the better early chances and Barca keeper Valdes had to be alert to tip wide a header from Israeli international Tomer Hemed on 22 minutes.
However, five minutes later Barca were ahead when Xavi curled a perfect free-kick over the defensive wall after Jose Luis Marti had fouled Fabregas on the left edge of the area.
Messi got his first on 43 minutes when he hit a well struck shot on the run, though Dudu Aouate in the Mallorca goal should have done better than allow the ball to squirm out of his hands and into the net.
A minute later and Tello controlled a pass on the left-wing before cutting inside and unleashing a right-footed drive that went across Aouate and into the far corner.
Half-time arrived and Barca suddenly had a three-goal cushion they hardly deserved.
Mallorca began to find their way back into it early in the second-half and Michael Pereira converted a right wing cross to reduce the lead on 55 minutes.
Two minutes later Busquets’ outstretched hand made enough contact with the ball for the referee to award a penalty that Casadesus converted to reduce the arrears to 3-2.
Mallorca rallied before Messi smashed home his second on 76 minutes to make the game safe after Alexis Sanchez had cleverly chested a cross into his path.
Earlier on Sunday, Athletic Bilbao battled to a hard fought 2-1 win over Sevilla despite finishing the game with ten men.
Oscar de Marcos put Bilbao ahead on 27 minutes side-footing home a cross from Jon Aurtenetxe before Markel Susaeta doubled the lead just before the interval.
Ander Herrera received his marching orders for a second caution with fifteen minutes remaining, and Alvaro Negredo struck a penalty four minutes later to give the away side some hope.
However Bilbao held on to claim the win that moves them to within a point of Sevilla, who have 15, in mid-table.
Also on 15 points are Valladolid and Valencia, who drew 1-1 with Ali Cissokho in the thick of the action.
Valencia’s French full-back opened the scoring in the first-half but then received a straight red for a trip in the area on Omar Ramos.
Victor Perez converted the penalty for a share of the points.