Barca trio upstage rival strikeforces

Barcelona 4 Numancia 1
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It was about eight minutes past 11 on Saturday night when Samuel Eto'o scored Barcelona's second goal from an Andres Iniesta pass. A significant strike not because it saw off plucky Numancia or even because it was Eto'o's 19th in 19 games but because it threw up an extraordinary statistic – Barcelona's front three alone are now outscoring the whole of Europe.

Behind Barcelona the continent's most prolific sides going into the weekend's action were Chelsea, Bundesliga leaders Hoffenheim and Atletico Madrid who had all scored 42 goals ... Eto'o, Leo Messi and Thierry Henry now have 45 between them.

No wonder Henry has no intention of listening to transfer window overtures from Manchester City. No wonder Eto'o is doing his utmost to control that temper which usually blows a least once a season, and no wonder Leo Messi said after the game: "If I ever leave Barcelona it will be because they get rid of me not because I want to go." Like that is going to happen any time in the next 10 years.

Messi got the slightest of touches on to a Dani Alves cross for the first before Eto'o swept in the second. Last week an over-zealous training session from the Cameroon international had led coach Pep Guardiola to send his leading scorer for an early shower. Guardiola had successfully played down what Barça's rivals wanted to a call a training ground bust-up and his player repaid him by maintaining his goal-a-game ratio.

Messi then turned provider for Henry to get the third – his fifth in five games and his 12th goal of the season meaning he has already bettered his league figures for last year.

The fourth came from Messi. Half-dribbled, half-bundled past two Numancia defenders and keeper Juan Pablo. A touch fortunate you might say if not for the fact that those mazy runs where the ball always seems to come back to the feet of the Barcelona No 10 happen every single week.

Numancia, the club with the smallest budget in the league, were the last side to beat Barcelona with a 1-0 win on the opening day of the season and for 45 minutes they frustrated the home side. They might even have gone in at half-time ahead had Javier Del Pino's goal not been harshly ruled-out for an adjudged push on Iniesta. Messi's first also looked a shade offside and Cesar Palacios was unlucky to be sent off with 10 minutes remaining.

A second half free-kick from Jose Barkero even beat Victor Valdes to narrow the score. But Barça also have the league's best defensive record with just 14 goals conceded and there was no way back for the minnows.

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