Eurozone: Messi magic keeps Barça cruising

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The Independent Football

With Barcelona's Gerard Piqué sent off for a wild and late challenge on Getafe defender Rafa midway through the first half, this looked like being the day Real, who hammered Espanyol 3-0, closed the five-point gap at the top of La Liga, but Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta played second-half keep-ball and so Barça made it 21 games unbeaten this season, prevailing 2-1.

Messi had already put them ahead after eight minutes with another ridiculously good goal – a shot that seemed to curl its way around the entire Getafe defence before swerving just inside goalkeeper Jordi Codina's near post. Messi made the second on 67 minutes, breaking away, drawing in the enemy and then releasing team-mate Xavi to score.

Henry 'promoted' at Barça

The France captain Thierry Henry can be thankful his national team coach Raymond Domenech does not share Fabio Capello's obsession with his players playing week-in, week-out. Henry, who watched last week's 1-0 win over Sporting Gijon from the bench was all set to watch Barcelona's victory over Gefafe from the stands before an injury in the warm-up to defender Dani Alves meant Henry was "promoted" to the bench as one of Barça's seven subs.

Robben on song for Bayern

During his injury-plagued two years at Real Madrid Arjen Robben never played more than eight consecutive matches. The Dutch winger is now just one game from equalling his best run at Real without getting injured and helped elevate Bayern Munich to the summit of the Bundesliga. Robben scored in his side's 3-1 away win over Wolfsburg, leaving them level on points with Bayer Leverkusen.

Bordeaux run comes to an end

French champions Bordeaux lost their first game since 21 November as Montpellier closed the gap at the top of Ligue 1 to just three points. After seven wins and two draws in their last nine games, Laurent Blanc's side lost 4-2 against Rennes and René Girard's team beat Boulogne 2-0.

Juventus slide further

As Liverpool moved into a Champions League spot in England, Juventus – who are courting Rafa Benitez – slipped further from the European places in Serie A. Juventus drew 0-0 with Livorno, leaving caretaker coach Alberto Zaccheroni still searching for his first win.