Spanish leader Barcelona cruises past Racing

  • Other Sport
  • Sunday, 21 Feb 2010

MADRID (AP): Barcelona recovered from its first defeat in the Spanish league by cruising to a 4-0 victory over Racing Santander to stay top of the standings on Saturday.

Andres Iniesta, Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez posted first-half goals while Thiago scored his first as Barcelona opened a five-point overnight lead over Real Madrid, which plays Villarreal on Sunday.

"We weren't brilliant - it's still a step forward," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "But this isn't enough to make us champions."

Iniesta opened the scoring at Camp Nou after seven minutes by beating Fabio Coltorti to a long pass the defense failed to clear, with the midfielder stabbing the looping ball around Racing's goalkeeper. It was the midfielder's first goal since last May, when his injury-time equalizer at Chelsea put the Catalan club into the Champions League final.

Barcelona dominated after the great start with Coltorti saving dangerous shots from Lionel Messi and Bojan Krkic before Racing managed its first chance in the 24th. But Barcelona 'keeper Victor Valdes beat the streaking Francisco "Xisco" Jimenez to Sergio Canales' flick-on to snatch away the chance.

Coltorti could only watch Henry's free kick go into goal in the 29th after the striker's low shot sneaked through the defensive wall. It was the third league goal and first since Dec. 2 for Henry, who was playing for the first time in four games.

"Let's hope the goal motivates him," Guardiola said. "The team expects a lot from him. I expect more from him."

Marquez made it 3-0 with a near identical free kick five minutes later, except the defender curled his shot over the wall inside the left post, past the outstretched Coltorti.

Racing had a goal waived away in the 36th as Xisco guided Canales' roller into goal, although it was questionable whether the striker was in an offside position.

Krkic and Messi exchanged passes to set each other up for chances before halftime, while Barcelona continued to set the pace after the break as Coltorti dove to cover Iniesta's clear curler just after the hour mark.

Messi slipped clear along the goal line to find Thiago - called up with the Spanish champions missing several players to injury - in the 84th and the youth team player's shot deflected off a Santander foot past Coltorti.

Going into Tuesday's Champions League match at Stuttgart, Barcelona recovered from its first league defeat of the season while playing without a number of injured players, including Xavi Hernandez and Daniel Alves.

Sevilla stayed alone in fourth after rallying for a 3-1 win at Mallorca, which saw its perfect home record snapped after 11 games.

Mario Suarez tapped Borja Valero's cross from nearly over the goal line into an open goal to put the hosts ahead at Ono Estadi after five minutes.

Following two stops, goalkeeper Dudu Aouate rushed well out of his area to thwart Sevilla's counterattack but Jesus Navas reached the long pass first, and tipped past the 'keeper before sliding an equalizer into the empty goal in the 23rd.

The quick tempo slowed from the 24th when Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo was questionably red-carded, although the teams were evened just before halftime when Ivan Ramis was sent off for a poor tackle from behind.

Ivica Dragutinovic floated a free kick over Aouate in the 57th to put Sevilla ahead from what looked like a cross and, five minutes later, Diego Perotti reached Navas' perfectly curled crossfield pass to push into the empty goal.

Sevilla finished with nine men after Didier Zakora was sent off in the 90th for a second yellow card.

Earlier, Deportivo La Coruna scored early twice but had to hold on for a 2-1 victory against last-place Xerez at El Riazor Stadium.

Deportivo's Andres Guardado slotted a penalty in the third minute. Ivan "Riki" Sanchez doubled the lead four minutes later with a hard left-footed shot into the top of goal after a counterattack.

Xerez's Mario Bermejo scored with a header in the 38th but Deportivo held on to improve to 38 points.

Barcelona has 58 points, Madrid 53, Valencia 43, Sevilla 42 and Mallorca 37. Also Sunday, it's: Malaga vs. Espanyol; Athletic Bilbao vs. Tenerife; Osasuna vs. Valladolid; Zaragoza vs. Sporting Gijon and Almeria vs. Atletico Madrid.

Valencia plays Getafe on Monday.

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