Four-goal Barça breeze by Zaragoza
Barcelona continued their prolific home form this season with a convincing four-goal victory over Real Zaragoza.
The result means Barcelona have now netted 30 times in their seven La Liga home games this season, while it is 11 matches ago since the European champions conceded a league goal at the Nou Camp.
For Zaragoza, the loss means they have now taken just one point from their last five games and they remain in trouble near the relegation zone.
Barça had been held 2-2 at Athletic Bilbao in their previous league match, leaving them three points behind pacesetters Real Madrid at the top of standings, and they would have been desperate not to slip up against Zaragoza with Jose Mourinho's men facing a tough trip to Valencia later this evening.
It took Pep Guardiola's men only 18 minutes to get themselves in front and ease any concerns of fatigue after the international break, with various members of the squad having had long-haul flights this week.
Xavi curled in a free-kick from the left and centre-back Pique got on the end of it to thump a header past Roberto Jimenez. Barça then created, and missed, several chances to increase their lead before Messi made it 2-0 two minutes before half-time with his 15th league goal of the season.
Cesc Fabregas fed Messi on the edge of the area, and the Argentinian spun towards goal, dummied his way past Maurizio Lanzaro and fired a low right-footed shot into the far corner of the net.
With Zaragoza having created little to worry the home side, Fabregas came close to making it 3-0 at the start of the second half, but there was no denying Puyol in the 53rd minute. His acrobatic volley from close range was half-stopped by Jimenez but Puyol, despite lying on the ground, managed to scramble to the loose ball and put it over the line as a Zaragoza defender tried to get back to clear.
With the points all but secured and a key UEFA Champions League clash with AC Milan coming up in midweek, Guardiola decided to ring the changes after that goal, but it did not get any easier for Zaragoza with Spanish internationals Andres Iniesta, Villa and Thiago the men coming on.
Barcelona continued to create opportunities, Messi and Iniesta unable to make the most of their openings, before Villa added a fourth goal in the 75th minute. Isaac Cuenca did well down the right and his cross found its way through to Villa at the far post, and his diving header was too good for Jimenez as Spain's record goalscorer struck his first league goal since September.