Messi magical in barca romp
Lionel Messi's four goals took him past the 40-goal mark for a third straight season and guided Barcelona to a 5-1 win over Valencia in La Liga last night.
Barca had to come from behind to stay within 10 points of leaders Real Madrid, trailing after nine minutes at the Camp Nou through Pablo Piatti's goal. Xavi Hernandez got the fifth in stoppage time.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has insisted Real Madrid will not get carried away with their large lead over Barca: "We're not looking to break records or other things the press talk about," he said.
The comments came after Madrid swept aside Santander 4-0 on Saturday, with Karim Benzema twice netting after Cristiano Ronaldo had opened the scoring after just six minutes. Angel Di Maria also marked his return to the side with a goal, but aggravated a thigh injury and will miss Real's Champions League match with CSKA Moscow tomorrow.
Elsewhere, Napoli secured an excellent 3-0 away victory at Fiorentina in Serie A prior to their Champions League last-16 home tie with Chelsea tomorrow.
Edinson Cavani was in clinical form, twice latching onto through balls from Marek Hamsik and finishing well -- the Uruguayan now has 13 goals in his last 15 games and his strike partnership with Ezequiel Lavezzi, who scored Napoli's third in stoppage time, looks set to worry a nervy Chelsea defence. The Londoners have conceded six goals in their past three matches.
Fresh from thrashing Arsenal, Milan stayed at the top of Serie A with a 3-1 win at bottom club Cesena yesterday -- Sulley Muntari, Urby Emanuelson and Robinho getting their goals.
In Holland, Ajax enjoyed a comfortable 4-1 home win over NEC Breda prior to their Europa League second-leg against Manchester United this week.