Argentine beats Cristiano Ronaldo by record margin to be crowned Europe’s top player.
|Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, left, shows his form [GALLO/GETTY]|
Thierry Henry and Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored to give Barcelona a 2-0 victory at Xerez to open up a five-point lead over second-place Real Madrid in the Spanish league.
On the same day that Fifa opened a disciplinary case against Henry for a blatant hand ball that helped put France into the World Cup, the Barcelona striker turned Maxwell’s pass through the hands of goalkeeper Renan Soares in the 46th minute for his second league goal.
Ibrahimovic chipped over Renan in injury time to make up for missed chances by Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.
It was the Sweden striker’s ninth league goal.
Barcelona, who played on Wednesday to make up for a missed league round for when they compete at the Club World Cup, have 33 points from 13 games.
Saturday November 28
Sevilla 2-2 Malaga
Sunday November 29
Almeria 1-4 Athletic Bilbao
Wednesday December 2
Xerez 0-2 Barcelona
Madrid, who play on Saturday against Almeria, have 28 from 12 games.
Sevilla are third with 26 points, one better than both Valencia and Deportivo La Coruna. Xerez remained in last place with seven points.
Messi, awarded the Golden Ball as Europe’s best player on Tuesday, started the match from the bench alongside Ibrahimovic, fresh from his winning volley in Sunday’s 1-0 “clasico” win over Madrid.
Xerez showed intent early through Fabian Orellano, but Barcelona went on to take control with Bojan Krkic and Seydou Keita coming close to scoring within 15 minutes.
Yaya Toure was clear inside the box just before half-time, but headed straight into the hands of Renan.
Messi and Ibrahimovic came on in the second half as the Catalans looked to
consolidate their lead, but Xerez remained defiant with speedy winger Orellano forcing Valdes to save a rising shot in the 71st.
Henry, who could be suspended for the first game of the World Cup for his hand ball in World Cup qualifying, was replaced by Iniesta in the 84th minute.