Soccer

Messi scores 3 as Barcelona romps over Almeria

Lionel Messi had three goals in Barcelona's record 8-0 rout at Almeria in the Spanish league Saturday.

Lionel Messi had three goals in Barcelona's record 8-0 rout at Almeria in the Spanish league Saturday.

Messi became only the fourth Barcelona scorer to go over 100 Spanish league goals after starting the triumph with his 17th-minute opener.

He added another in the 37th before pouncing on a loose ball in the 67th for his league-leading 13th goal, and 14th goal in eight games in all competitions.

Substitute Bojan Krkic scored twice, while Andres Iniesta and Pedro Rodriguez also netted for the Spanish champion. Santiago Acasiete added an own goal as Barcelona matched its -- and the league's -- best ever away-win from 51 years ago.

Almeria coach Juan Manuel Lillo was fired right after the game at Juegos Mediterraneos Stadium.

With coach Jose Mourinho watching on from the Santiago Bernabeu stands as he served out a two-game ban, Ronaldo led Madrid after Gonzalo Higuain opened for the hosts in the 19th minute.

Mesut Oezil tapped a long pass into the path of the Portugal forward to fire past goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz and make it 2-0 after half an hour. Fernando Llorente volleyed a loose ball home from inside the box for the Basque side just before the break.

But Sergio Ramos restored the two-goal lead with a 57th-minute penalty then Ronaldo surprised Iraizoz with a dipping free kick from over 30 metres out.

Ronaldo capped Madrid's resounding win with an injury-time penalty for his league-leading 14th goal.

Madrid tops the standings with 32 points and Barcelona has 31 going into their "clasico" at the Camp Nou on Nov. 29, with the pair facing Champions League matches beforehand.

"Let's see if Barcelona can score eight goals next Monday," Ronaldo told La Sexta TV.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola left Gerard Pique on the bench with the Spain defender a yellow card away from suspension ahead of the Madrid match.

But it hardly mattered as Barcelona's offence pulverized its 18th-place opponent.

Messi capped a well-worked combination with David Villa by firing past goalkeeper Diego Alves for the opener.

Iniesta jumped on an Almeria defensive error to fire past Diego Alves into the roof of goal two minutes later before Acasiete poked Maxwell's pass home in the 27th.

More magic from Messi

Pedro beat Diego Alves to a long ball to fire into an open goal in the 35th. The Spain forward then found Messi darting into the box and although the Brazilian 'keeper saved the right-footed shot, Messi hesitated long enough to receive the rebound and score with his left foot.

Bojan came in for Pedro and held off two defenders before flicking over Diego Alves in the 63rd to make it 6-0.

Messi's easiest was his last after Diego Alves spilled the rebound from Villa's hard shot for league goal No. 101 with the Catalan club.   Bojan capped the record rout -- Almeria's previous worst defeat was a 6-0 loss at Barcelona -- after receiving from Messi in the 73rd. Barcelona matched its previous best away result -- an 8-0 win at Las Palmas in 1959 -- to tie the biggest league away win ever.

Almeria president Alfonso Garcia Gabarron told Canal Plus TV after the match that coach Juan Manuel Lillo's position was not sure.

"We were ridiculous," Garcia Gabarron said. "We're going to meet now because we've got to find a way to respond. I'm not going to say it now out of respect [to the coach] as we will communicate the decision to him first."

Earlier, Villarreal rallied for a 1-1 tie against Valencia to stay three points ahead in third place.

At Villarreal, Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi reached Bruno Soriano's guided cross in the 73rd minute to push it past Valencia goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya for his eighth goal of the season.

Injury worries for Valencia, Villarreal

Aritz Aduritz had put Valencia ahead in the 21st at El Madrigal Stadium, where Villarreal's perfect record ended after six games. The Basque striker redirected Joaquin Sanchez's sharp centring pass from along the goal-line off defender Gonzalo Rodriguez to get past goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Midfielder Marcos Senna equalled Rodolfo Arruabarrena's record mark of 219 appearances for the "Yellow Submarine." Both teams suffered injury worries as Spain defender Capdevila limped off with an ankle injury and Valencia centre back David Navarro also exited in the second half.

Valencia played with 10 men after Marius Stankevicius was sent off in the 85th for a second booking.

In Sunday's 12th-round games, it's: Osasuna versus. Sporting Gijon; Espanyol versus. Hercules; Levante versus. Racing Santander; Deportivo La Coruna versus. Malaga; Sevilla versus. Mallorca; and Real Sociedad versus. Atletico Madrid.

New Zaragoza coach Javier Aguirre makes his debut Monday at Getafe.