Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

More Sports

Messi scores 4 to send Guardiola off with victory

Lionel Messi scored four times to take his season tally to an unprecedented 72 goals and give Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola a 4-0 win over crosstown rival Espanyol in his last home game at Camp Nou on Saturday.

Messi's scoring display was a fitting farewell for the coach who helped the Argentina forward become the world's best player and forged Barcelona into one of the best teams to have played soccer.

After scoring his Spanish league-record 50th goal, Messi went to the sideline to embrace Guardiola, who is leaving after 13 titles in four seasons.

The only other player to have scored 70 goals in a first-division season was Archie Stark of Bethlehem Steel in the American Soccer League in 1924-25.

Real Madrid, which clinched the league title in the last round, won 2-1 at Granada thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's 45th league goal and David Cortes' own goal in stoppage time.

"Life has given me this gift during the past five years of being able to live with these players and enjoy this spectacle," Guardiola told the packed stands following his 97th win in 118 home games.

"I have been the privileged one, to feel so loved and admired during all these years. Many thanks to all, above all to those who I have worked with every day."

Guardiola will coach Barcelona's last league game at Real Betis before having a chance at a 14th piece of silverware in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao. Guardiola's assistant Tito Vilanova will then take over.

In Granada, Madrid fell behind early after Franco Jara robbed Marcelo of the ball, charged up the field and shot under the legs of Madrid goalkeeper Adan Garrido, playing in place of Iker Casillas.

But Ronaldo converted a penalty in the 82nd and Cortes turned a cross into his own goal three minutes into injury time.

Madrid has 97 points and can set a league record with 100 points with a win over Mallorca in the final round.

Elsewhere, Valencia beat Villarreal 1-0 to clinch third place for the third straight season and automatically qualify for next season's Champions league.

Atletico Madrid beat fourth-place Malaga 2-1, giving it a shot at overtaking the Costa del Sol club in the final round and claiming Spain's last Champions League playoff spot.

The race to avoid the drop could not be tighter after Zaragoza downed the already-relegated Racing Santander 2-1 and Sporting Gijon beat Betis 1-0. Second-to-last place Sporting has 37 points. Zaragoza and Rayo Vallecano both have 40, while Villarreal has 41 and Granada 42.

___

WEMBLEY, England (AP) — Four goals in four FA Cup finals, and now four winners' medals for Didier Drogba.

Cementing his status as Chelsea's player for the big occasions, Drogba clinched a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday to prove his enduring value to the team at the age of 34.

"He is my hero," midfielder Frank Lampard said. "No striker I have ever played with has scored so many important goals in finals."

In fact, no player has ever scored in as many FA Cup finals as Drogba.

"That's the reason why I came here, to win trophies and to make history with the club," said Drogba, who joined Chelsea in 2004. "The result is great for us, for the fans, for the club. Our fourth FA Cup final, fourth win, fourth trophy."

But it could be his last FA Cup as the Ivorian's contract expires at the end of the season.

"He's not 65. He's a top professional," Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said when asked about Drogba's future.

Drogba scored his eighth goal in eight games at Wembley in the 52nd minute of the 131st final of the competition, with Chelsea already leading through Ramires' deflected 11th-minute strike.

Drogba slotted the ball through defender Martin Skrtel's legs and into the net after being fed by Lampard as a lethargic Liverpool posed little threat.

That was until Liverpool substitute Andy Carroll breathed life back into the game when he pulled one back in the 64th after teasing his way around Chelsea captain John Terry.

Chelsea had to survive a late, intense Liverpool onslaught, with Carroll believing he had equalized when a close-range header was swatted away on the goal line via the crossbar by goalkeeper Petr Cech.

But the referee waved away Liverpool's appeals for a goal, with replays indicating that the entire ball did not cross the line.

And Terry went on to become the first captain to lift the FA Cup four times with the same club.

"It's fantastic, it's what we live for," Terry said. "At times people have slated us as too old, past it or not together but as a team we come together and unite when our backs are against the wall."

As they have been for most of the season. Chelsea's freefall, though, was halted after Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas as coach two months ago until the end of the season.

While Chelsea is still languishing outside of the four Champions League qualification places in sixth place in the English Premier League, the team can win the European Cup for the first time by beating Bayern Munich in two weeks.

Arsenal's grip on third place in the Premier League loosened Saturday when it was held to a 3-3 draw by Norwich.

Arsenal is looking to qualify for the Champions League and the loss came in Arsene Wenger's 900th match in charge of the London club.

Steve Morison scored in the 85th minute to secure the draw for Norwich. The outcome left Arsenal two points ahead of Tottenham and Newcastle — both play Sunday. The point lifted Norwich to 13th place.

Robin van Persie equaled Thierry Henry's Arsenal record of 30 goals in a Premier League season with two late goals. Yossi Benayoun of Arsenal opened the scoring after just two minutes. Goals by Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt put Norwich in front at halftime.

___

BERLIN (AP) — Cologne was relegated on the final day of the Bundesliga season on Saturday following a 4-1 home defeat to Bayern Munich, while Hertha Berlin clinched the playoff place with a 3-1 win over 10-man Hoffenheim.

Cologne fans reacted to the club's fifth relegation by setting off flares and smoke bombs, engulfing one stand in black smoke as riot police were deployed on the pitch.

Hertha started the day behind Cologne and needed a win and a favor from Bayern to avoid the drop.

Hertha now faces a two-leg playoff against the third-place side from the second tier to decide which team plays in the Bundesliga next season. The first game against Duesseldorf, Paderborn or St. Pauli is on Thursday, with the second leg on May 15.

Borussia Dortmund, already assured of its second straight title, celebrated with a 4-0 win over Freiburg to stretch its record unbeaten run to 28 games within a season and set a new Bundesliga record of 81 points.

The champion also equaled Bayern's record of 25 wins in a season.

___

MILAN (AP) — Lecce is on the verge of relegation after losing 1-0 at home to Fiorentina in Serie A as new coach Vincenzo Guerini won his first game in charge of the Tuscan side on Saturday.

Alessio Cerci scored the only goal of the game 10 minutes before halftime. Lecce goalkeeper Massimiliano Benassi almost equalized in injury time but his strike hit his own teammate.

Francesco Totti scored twice and had a penalty saved as Roma drew 2-2 with Catania in the veteran striker's 500th Serie A match.

Lecce is three points off Genoa, which plays Udinese on Sunday. Lecce still has a slight chance of avoiding the drop if Genoa loses its last two games.

Lecce must win its final match at Chievo Verona next weekend to survive on goal difference, as it has a level head-to-head record with Genoa. Both games between the sides finished in a draw.