SPORTS

Chicharito Scores Again, Lionel Messi First to 50 Goals In Spain

Manchester United's Javier Hernandez, center, celebrates after scoring against Everton during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday April 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Jon Super)   NO INTERNET/MOBILE USAGE WITHOUT FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION PREMIER LEAGUE(FAPL)LICENCE. EMAIL info@football-dataco.com FOR DETAILS.

Manchester United's Javier Hernandez, center, celebrates after scoring against Everton during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday April 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Jon Super) NO INTERNET/MOBILE USAGE WITHOUT FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION PREMIER LEAGUE(FAPL)LICENCE. EMAIL info@football-dataco.com FOR DETAILS.

Chicharito has been a big surprise for Manchester United. And everyone knew Lionel Messi was good -- but not this good.

Lionel Messi became the first player in Spain to score 50 goals in a club season, helping Barcelona rebound from its loss to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final with a 2-0 victory over Osasuna on Saturday night. Messi is the first to 50 goals in a season, even if he wasn't the fastest to seven million fans on Facebook.

Barcelona rested most regular starters in preparation for Wednesday's first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid — the third of four matches between the rivals in an 18-day span.

David Villa scored his 18th goal — and first in 12 games — in the 24th minute. Messi replaced Villa in the 58th and rolled home his league-leading 31st goal with three minutes left. With 177 goals for Barcelona in all competitions, Messi is one behind Josep Samitier for third place on the Barcelona career scoring list, trailing Cesar Rodriguez (235) and Laszlo Kubala (196).

Seeking its third straight La Liga title, Barcelona extended its league unbeaten streak to 31 games and maintained an eight-point lead over second-place Real Madrid with five games remaining.

Three days after hoisting its 18th domestic cup and first trophy in nearly three years with a 1-0 overtime victory over Barcelona, Real Madrid returned to the Mestalla Stadium and routed Valencia 6-3. This after following up their Copa del Rey win by running over the cup with the team bus.

Meanwhile, American goalkeeper Tim Howard's best efforts could not prevent Everton slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United that edged Alex Ferguson's team close to a record 19th English title.

Howard made a string of great saves, but was beaten in the 84th minute when Javier, "Chicharito" Hernandez went high to head the winner at the far post.

The result at Old Trafford left the Red Devils needing seven points in the last four games to guarantee the title.

"The way we're going about our business gives us an outstanding chance," Ferguson said. "There's a winning attitude about the team and a real determination. They refuse to give in."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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