'Holy trinity' keeps Barça believing
Barcelona 5 Deportivo la Coruna 0
Monday 19 January 2009
Thierry Henry is on his way to 20 goals for the season and Barcelona are on course for 100 points. "If we don't win the league then all the talk of records is for nothing," the former Arsenal striker said after his double against Deportivo La Coruña took him to 11 goals and Barcelona to 50 points at the half-way stage of the Spanish season.
But with this 5-0 demolition of Deportivo records are no longer being talked about, they are actually being broken. No one in Spain has ever clocked up the half century at the midway point of a campaign. Real Madrid made it to 47 last season, Barça have beaten that and with considerably more style and goals.
"God exists and he plays for Barcelona," read one banner in honour of Leo Messi, who scored another improbable goal for the first. With two goals for Henry and two for Samuel Eto'o, Deportivo felt the full force of the holy trinity. Messi, with 12, Henry with 11 and Eto'o with 18 now have 41 goals between them – more than most teams in Spain's top division.
With 59 goals so far Barcelona are averaging more than three a game and will smash the scoring record for a season if they maintain this pace. "It's not easy to score five,"Pep Guardiola, Barça's coach, said after the match as he desperately tried to keep a lid on the euphoria. His modesty was betrayed by a team who do make it look easy, very easy.
They could have been ahead after just 29 seconds when Henry's shot was saved at point-blank range by the Deportivo keeper, Aranzubia. He was to go on and have a fine match, and yet pick the ball out of his net four times before being sent-off. Barça created 17 chances, 11 of them in an electric first half as they went 3-0 up.
For the opener, Messi picked the ball up on the right-wing and tricked his way into the penalty area. Eto'o showed for the pass and was furious when it never arrived. The Cameroon striker practically had to step out of the way to allow the Argentine to continue his run and was still fuming when Messi's shot trickled inside the near post.
Henry made it 2-0 when he looped a header over Aranzubia from Dani Alves' cross, nonchalantly delivered with the outside of his boot. The former Seville full-back made the third with a cross which Seydou Keita headed goalwards. Aranzubia blocked it, but only as far as Eto'o, who gobbled up the rebound. And like so many teams visiting the Nou Camp this season, Deportivo wanted to go home at half-time.
In the second half Barcelona eased up, but Henry still added a fourth after Xavi and Andres Iniesta had combined brilliantly. The most difficult thing for sides facing Barcelona is that it is impossible to know from where the next threat will come. And from nowhere the central defender Carles Puyol came charging through to create the fifth.
He was fouled by Aranzubia who received a straight red and Eto'o rolled the penalty past the midfielder Juan Rodriguez, who had taken the goalkeeper's gloves. Eto'o embraced his victim as he passed him to pick the ball out of the net and somehow the referee decided that only one minute would be added to Deportivo's suffering – a mercy for the 16th team to lose to Barcelona in the league this season.
Real Madrid stay 12 points behind Barcelona after beating Osasuna 3-1, with goals from Sergio Ramos, Gonzalo Higuain and Arjen Robben, after falling behind to Javad Nekounam's strike.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal; Xavi, Touré (Iniesta, 70), Keita; Messi, Eto'o, Henry.
Deportivo La Coruña (4-2-3-1): Aranzubia; Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Ze Castro, Filipe; Sergio, Rodriguez; Cristian (De Guzman, 63), Verdu, Guardado (Lafita, 27); Bodipo (Riki, 75).
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