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Messi hits four as Barca maintain perfect start

first_img0Shares0000Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (L) vies with Eibar’s David Junca during their match in Barcelona on September 19, 2017 © AFP / PAU BARRENAMADRID, Spain, Sep 19 – Lionel Messi added four more goals to his soaring early season tally as a much-changed Barcelona maintained their 100 percent start to La Liga by routing Eibar 6-1 on Tuesday.Paulinho and Denis Suarez also netted for the second consecutive game as Barca stretched their lead at the top of La Liga to seven points over Real Madrid, who host Real Betis on Wednesday. “That Messi scored four goals now isn’t news,” said Barca boss Ernesto Valverde after the Argentine’s 43rd career hat-trick.“He has done it so many nights, in so many games. To keep repeating it is the most difficult thing.“He is an extraordinary player. I have run out of words for him.”Messi played in a more central role as Valverde heavily rotated his side for the first time since taking charge with Luis Suarez dropping to the bench among six changes from Saturday’s hard-fought 2-1 win at Getafe.And contrary to their fortunes last season, Barca’s back-ups proved Valverde can take the luxury of resting some of his star names with Paulinho particularly impressive on his first start.Messi opened the scoring in nonchalant fashion from the penalty spot on 21 minutes after Nelson Semedo had been felled by an ungainly challenge from Alejandro Galvez.Paulinho’s 40-million-euro ($48 million) signing from Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande was one of a series of moves that drew stinging criticism for Barca’s board following Neymar’s world-record departure for Paris Saint-Germain.However, after coming off the bench to score the winner at Getafe, Paulinho powered home his second Barca goal from Denis Suarez’s corner seven minutes before half-time.Paulinho also played his part in Barca’s third with a cute dummy that freed Messi and, when his shot was parried by Marko Dmitrovic, Denis Suarez fired home the rebound.Sergi Enrich reduced the arrears when he capitalised on some sloppy Barca defending to slot home David Junca’s cross.However, Messi quickly restored Barca’s three-goal lead with a lovely measured finish from the edge of the box.The five-time world player of the year completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark by prodding through Dmitrovic’s legs from Paulinho’s pass.And he added his 12th goal in just eight games this season three minutes from time after a neat one-two with Aleix Vidal.Valencia’s Simone Zaza, pictured in January 2017, bagged a hat-trick against Malaga © AFP/File / JOSE JORDAN– Anger fuels Zaza –Barca lead second-placed Sevilla, who host Las Palmas on Wednesday, by five points with Valencia now just a point further adrift as they moved up to third thanks to Simone Zaza’s seven-minute hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of Malaga.By contrast, a fifth straight defeat to start the season sees Malaga slip to bottom of the table and plunges coach Michel into further danger of becoming the second La Liga boss to be sacked this term.“I am tremendously proud of the performance of the players. It is a joy to be able to enjoy it with our fans,” said Valencia coach Marcelino.Santi Mina got the rout started after just 17 minutes with a neat header from Carles Soler’s cross.Zaza then completed his first ever hat-trick with three clinical close-range finishes between the 55th and 62nd minute before substitute Rodrigo rounded off the scoring.And the former Juventus striker shrugged off a bust-up with Marcelino after being dropped for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Levante.“I didn’t have anything to prove,” Zaza told BeIN Sports Spain.“What happened on Saturday is already forgotten, I think it is normal that a player is angry when he doesn’t play.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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Rain halts Federer’s Indian Wells opener

first_img0Shares0000With showers expected to continue at Indian Wells organizers suspended play for the night, with the match between Roger Federer and Federico Delbonis put on hold © GETTY/AFP / KEVORK DJANSEZIANINDIAN WELLS, United States, Mar 11 – Defending champ Roger Federer’s opening match was put on hold Saturday when play at the Indian Wells ATP Masters was suspended after heavy rain swept through the California desert.The 36-year-old Federer had taken a set from Federico Delbonis 6-3 with the second tied at 2-2 when rain stopped play. The start of the match had been delayed several minutes by light rain in a precursor of worse weather to come.With the showers expected to continue, organizers eventually suspended play for the night, with the match to resume on Sunday.One women’s match had yet to be completed and another didn’t even make it on court, and those two were also to be completed on Sunday.Federer and Delbonis will be the third match on stadium court on Sunday after 10th seeded Novak Djokovic plays his opener against Japan’s Taro Daniel.Federer is seeking to extend his perfect record this season to 13-0 as he hopes to make history and capture his sixth title.The age-defying Swiss maestro has already won two titles in 2018, claiming his 20th Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open in January.In men’s play earlier, world number four Grigor Dimitrov slumped to a shock 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-3 defeat to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.Dimitrov continues to struggle in Indian Wells. The 26-year-old Bulgarian No. 1 has never made it past the third round in seven appearances.Dimitrov reached the final earlier this year in Rotterdam, where he lost to Federer. That came after a breakthrough 2017 which saw him win four titles, including Sofia, Cincinnati, Brisbane and the ATP Finals.Verdasco, 34, is making his 15th straight appearance in Indian Wells and trying to improve on his 2009 quarter-final run.– ‘Amazing feeling’ –“It is an amazing feeling when you come to a tournament like this and in a stadium with a good atmosphere against one of the top players in the world. You know you’re able to do your job and have a good day and win the match,” said Verdasco.“So it was a really good feeling. I am super happy to win and come through this tough opponent and this tough round.“I am just going to enjoy the victory and try to keep it going in the next round and make it as far as possible.”Fifth seeded Dominic Thiem defeated teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in a second round match.Thiem moved through to a third round meeting with 30th seed Pablo Cuevas, of Uruguay, who beat Canadian Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.Thiem, 24, is hoping to improve on last year’s quarter-final finish at Indian Wells, one of the biggest events on the tennis calendar outside of the four Grand Slams.Other men’s winners on Saturday included American Taylor Fritz, Czech Tomas Berdych and South Korea’s Chung Hyeon.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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