With Lionel Messi as a three-time goal-taker and Cesc Fabregas as a three-time goal-maker, 10-man Barcelona outlasted Deportivo La Coruna in a wild 5-4 shootout in the Spanish league on Saturday. Saturday evening's game looked to be a one-sided affair when the league leaders raced into a three-goal lead through Jordi Alba, Cristian Tello and Messi after just 18 minutes.
FC Barcelona beat a feisty Deportivo La Coruña side 5-4 Saturday evening in Riazor, hanging on to their eight-point Liga lead in an epic nine-goal thriller. Despite the close-seeming scoreline, the blaugrana never looked to be in a lot of trouble: they jumped out to an early 0-3 lead within twenty minutes, and despite a gutsy performance from their northern hosts--and the loss of Javier Mascherano to a red card at the beginning of the second half--the Catalan side remained steadily in control. However, Depor replied with a Luis Pizzi penalty and an Alex Bergantinos goal before Messi struck again to put Barca back in the driving seat. Pizzi's second of the match then set the nerves jangling once more and the dismissal of Javier Mascherano gave the visitors further food for thought until Messi made it 5-3 with his third.
Messi now has 11 league goals, two more than Cristiano Ronaldo who earlier scored for Real Madrid in a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo that kept Madrid right points behind the Catalan side. Goalkeeper Aranzubia came forward for a last-minute corner but it was not to be for a battling Deportivo and Barca took the points in a breathtaking match. A moment of madness from Alba supplied Deportivo with a lifeline, as he volleyed the ball into his own net under pressure from Riki inside the Barcelona penalty area to make the score 5-4.
Deportivo committed men forward late on as it went in search of an equalizer but Barcelona's makeshift defense managed to withstand the pressure and hold out for all three points to retain its place atop of La Liga.
Messi and Fabregas teamed up to put Barcelona back in front by two goals when Fabregas slipped the ball through the defense for Messi to slot into the far side of the net two minutes before halftime. Barcelona appeared to have regained control, but that quickly changed in the 47th when Pizzi curled a free kick past Valdes, who got a touch on the ball but not enough to keep it out. Barcelona was reduced to 10 men moments later when the referee booked Mascherano a second time for hitting Riki's face with his arm.
With Deportivo pressing for the equalizer, Messi decided the match with a pure display of his unique talent, resisting a tackle near the center line before charging forward and finding the angle to shoot around two defenders and the goalie to grab his hat trick. Fittingly for such an up-and-down contest, Alba scored an absurd own goal in the 79th, flipping the ball over Valdes in a horribly flubbed attempt to clear, and Barcelona had to resist until the end to get the three points.