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First Division - Day 17

Barcelona 4 - Rayo Vallecano 0

Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Dani Alves, Mascherano, Piqué, Abidal; Iniesta (Cesc Fàbregas 54'), Xavi (Thiago 54'), Keita; Alexis (Adriano 70'), Messi, David Villa. 4-3-3.
Rayo: Cobeño; Botelho, Arribas, Labaka, Jordi Figueras, Casado; Michel (Tamudo 46'), Javi Fuego (Rafa García 54'), Movilla; Michu, Lass (Piti 68'). 5-3-2.

1-0. 28. Alexis. Picked up Xavi pass on left of area and fired shot in off far post.
2-0. 40. Alexis. Collected loose ball on left of area and struck shot across keeper.
3-0. 42. David Villa. Turned shot past Cobeño after Dani Alves played ball across.
4-0. 49. Messi. Ran through from right wing to beat Cobeño from wide angle.

Yellow cards: Lass 39', Jordi 44', Arribas 59', Valdés 80', Piqué 83'.

Barcelona beat Rayo Vallecano 4-0 on Tuesday evening in a game which was brought forward from week 17 to make space for Guardiola's side to play in next month's Club World Cup. After the surprise defeat at Getafe on Saturday, the Catalans desperately needed a win to keep in touch with leaders Real Madrid. But the visitors more than held their own early on, with Valdés having to turn a wide Michel free kick on to the crossbar before Xavi found Alexis for him to fire an angled shot in off the far post with just under half an hour on the clock. Five minutes before the break Alexis got his second of the night, Messi's pass coming off the back of Xavi's boot and falling kindly for the Chilean forward to beat Cobeño once again. And two minutes later Villa made it three after Dani Alves had collected a Piqué through ball and unselfishly played the ball across for him to score. Sandoval bravely brought on Tamudo at the break, but four minutes in to the second half Messi ran on to a return pass from Alves to cut in from the right wing and beat the keeper from a wide angle to complete the scoreline. Another home win to make it 34-0 in the Nou Camp for the season. But Barça's problems this year have come on their away trips, and despite having played a game more they are still three points behind Real Madrid, who as luck would have it will be their next opponents away from home. That one they really can't afford to lose! (29.11.11)