Europe Round-Up: Real stay top after Higuain seals victory

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The Independent Football

Lionel Messi scored for the sixth straight game to lead FC Barcelona to a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league yesterday.

Messi scored in the 19th, three minutes after Deco had put Barcelona ahead when he took advantage of a goalkeeping error by backup Christian Abbiati. Xavi Hernandez added a third in injury time.

Barcelona is second with 17 points. Real Madrid stayed top of the standings with 19 points after beating Recreativo Huelva 2-0 with second-half goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and substitute Gonzalo Higuain.

Villarreal stayed third with 15 points after losing to Osasuna 3-2. Valencia, which lost to Espanyol 2-1 on Saturday, also has 15 points.

Deportivo La Coruna handed Sevilla its fourth straight defeat with a 1-0 win.

In other seventh round games, Mallorca rallied with 10 men to beat Getafe 4-2, and Ricardo Oliveira scored twice to lead Zaragoza over Levante 3-0. Also, Almeria rallied for a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao, while Murcia and Real Betis finished 0-0.

In Germany, Bayern Munich extended its lead at the top of the German first division with two goals from Luca Toni in a 3-0 win against Bavarian rival FC Nuremberg.

Bayern's victory moved it five points clear of second-placed Karlsruher SC for a record lead after nine rounds of the season.

Promoted Eintracht Frankfurt beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 behind Sotirios Kyrgiakos's two headers.

Nuremberg goalkeeper Jaromir Blazek was unable to hold Hamit Altintop's long-distance attempt in the 31st minute and Toni got to the ball to score. With nine minutes left, the Italian international headed in a corner from Ze Roberto for his second goal.

Toni tied injured teammate Miroslav Klose for the league high of eight goals this season.

"You call that class, he's always in the right place," Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said of Toni. "I had fun watching the game like everybody else. If we take care of business and win games like this, we will win the title."

Ze Roberto scored Bayern's second goal in the 40th minute on a low shot, going through after Bastian Schweinsteiger's backheel pass.

Hitzfeld's return to Bayern eight months ago was spoiled by Nuremberg, which routed his club 3-0 and went on to claim the German Cup.

This time, however, Bayern was in control. Bayern has won its last four games 13-1 in goals and is unbeaten with seven wins and two draws.

Nuremberg, which has lost its starting forwards to injury, fell into 17th place, one up from bottom.

"If you get beaten by a team that's a lot better, a team that toyed with us at times, a coach isn't as disappointed as you might think," Nuremberg coach Hans Meyer said.

Frankfurt took the lead with Kyrgiakos's 54th minute header off a free kick as it moved into seventh place. The Greek was left unmarked as he again headed a goal for a 79th-minute winner.

A last-minute goal from the substitute Geoffrey Dernis gave St-Etienne a 1-0 victory over Marseilles in the French First Division on Saturday. St-Etienne dominated the first half as Marseilles appeared tired after their 1-0 victory over Liverpool on Wednesday – the first victory by a French club at Anfield.

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