Eto'o hat-trick keeps Barcelona in hot pursuit

There was talk of Real Madrid wrapping up the Spanish title in time to be given a guard of honour by Barcelona's players when they visit the Bernabeu three weeks from the end of the season, but that will not be happening if Samuel Eto'o has anything to do with it.

Back from the African Nations Cup and starting in place of the rested Thierry Henry, Eto'o scored a hat-trick last night as Barcelona hammered lowly Levante 5-1 to keep up the heat on the leaders.

The value of that win was increased when Real then crashed to a 1-0 defeat to Madrid rivals Getafe at the Bernabeu. the Nigerian striker Ikechukwu Uche hit the winner for Getafe, who are the Real coach Bernd Schuster's former club. The defeat leaves them just two points ahead of Barça.

At the Nou Camp Levante severely test the theory that there are no easy games any more. Rock bottom with just 16 points from 25 games, their players have not been paid for almost a year and there was even talk of a minute's sit-in before kick-off in protest at their economic plight.

As it was, the closest thing to a sit-in came with Barcelona camped in Levante's penalty area. Thanks to Eto'o, the chances were turned into goals.

On the quarter-hour his pass set up Xavi to shoot home through a crowd of players. Ronaldinho should have made it two with the next attack when an Eto'o cross ran to him, but he blasted over. That miss encouraged the visitors, who dramatically pulled level when Gianluca Zambrotta handled the ball and Mustapha Riga gently placed the penalty past Victor Valdes.

Sanity was restored on the stroke of half-time when the outstanding Lionel Messi lashed a left-foot shot past the Levante goalkeeper Vladan Kujovic. Then Eto'o took over. Eleven minutes into the second period he made it 3-1 by sliding in a Messi pass. Six minutes later, after Messi had received the ball from Eric Abidal and squared to the Cameroon striker, Eto'o finished to make it four. Three minutes from time he somewhat fortuitously finished Bojan Krkic's cross to complete his hat-trick.

While Barcelona battle Real for the La Liga title, Seville are making a charge for one of the two remaining Champions League places, overcoming off-the-pitch adversity with their fourth win in five games.

On Saturday Luis Fabiano was the hero. He only scored twice in their 5-0 demolition of Real Zaragoza but still took the match ball home as a gift for his family, who had been robbed in their home at gunpoint on Friday afternoon.

The Brazilian striker was at training when armed raiders threatened his wife and young daughters and made away with jewellery and money. Hours earlier thieves had broken into the home of the Seville goalkeeper Andres Palop, but were disturbed and fled empty handed.

"It was a special game for me. My family and I have had a real shock and I'm taking the ball home as a gift to them," said the forward, whose 19 goals have put him just behind Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo in the running for the Golden Boot for Europe's top scorer.

Fabiano hit two goals in the first half from Dani Alves' passes, then Roberto Ayala made it three with an own goal. Carlos Diogo, who was later sent off, also put through his own net and Seydou Keita completed the rout with the fifth.

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible