Barcelona beats Hercules 3-0 for 15th straight win

Barcelona: Barcelona avenged its only defeat
in the Spanish league this season with a record-equaling 3-0
win over Hercules, provisionally moving seven points clear of
second-place Real Madrid.

To add to its fierce rival`s plight, Barcelona`s 15th
consecutive league win equals Madrid`s record that had stood
since the 1960-61 season. In this winning stretch, Barcelona
has outscored its opponents 57-6.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola called it an "immense
honour" to equal Madrid`s record.

Pedro Rodriguez scored the opener in the 43rd, blasting
in a pass from Xavi Hernandez, and Lionel Messi scored two
goals in the last three minutes to seal the win at Rico Perez

Hercules had stunned the defending champions in week 2
with a 2-0 victory at Camp Nou, but Barcelona dominated
throughout yesterday and could have scored more goals.

"We knew this visit was important," said Barcelona right
back Dani Alves. "We saw it in the first round. (Hercules) is
a well-organised team and pressures a lot." Barcelona has 58

In an up-and-down opening, Hercules had the best chance,
David Trezeguet poking Nelson Valdez`s pass just past the left
post in the 21st.

After the scare from the former France striker, Barcelona
took control of possession and the game, and Pedro soon
converted Barcelona`s dominance into its first goal.

The 23-year-old Spanish international has scored 12 goals
this season and eight in his last six games. The last
Barcelona player to score in six straight games was Ronaldo in

"Pedro has a knack for scoring goals," Guardiola said.
"He runs a lot and pressures intensely."

Barcelona smothered Hercules in its own half after the
restart, with Pedro having a goal disallowed in the 65th and
Messi grazing the right post from inside the area shortly

Hercules played with 10 men during the last 10 minutes
after Francisco Farinos was sent off for a second yellow card.
Messi soon took advantage with one of his trademark
left-footed shots from the edge of the area in the 87th. The
Argentina star then pushed in a pass from Dani Alves for
Barcelona`s third in the 89th.

Messi has 37 goals - 21 in the league - and nine doubles
in all competitions this season.

Earlier, Sporting Gijon routed Mallorca 4-0 on Saturday
for its first away win in the league this season, and Levante
downed Getafe 2-0.

Bureau Report

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