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Barcelona thrashes Osasuna

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MADRID - Barcelona warmed up for next Sunday's Clasico at Spanish leaders Real Madrid with a 7-0 home destruction of feeble Osasuna yesterday.

Lionel Messi led the charge with a handsome hat-trick, which confirmed his return to fitness and form, and also made him Barca's all-time top scorer.

Messi's hat-trick left him a tally of 371 goals for Barca in 453 games in all matches, which is two more than Paulino Alcantara.

"I am really pleased with our performance. Everything went perfectly today," said a beaming Messi.

"It's wonderful to enter into the history of the club as top scorer, but the important thing is that the team has won ... I feel fine, I am getting into a good rhythm."

When asked about the rumours of him considering leaving Barca, Messi replied: "As long as people want me to be here, I will stay.

"My intention is to finish my career wearing a Barca shirt. I am happy here."

Meanwhile, Barca coach Gerardo Martino said that the 7-0 win had helped to make his mind up about his lineup against Real - meaning that Brazil forward Neymar will probably be on the subs' bench again.

Alexis Sanchez, Andres Iniesta, Cristian Tello and Pedro scored Barca's other goals, in a performance which defied recent criticisms of the ageing team.

The easy win left Barca four points behind Real - who won 1-0 at Malaga Saturday - and one behind second-placed Atletico Madrid, who beat Espanyol 1-0.

Osasuna are sixth from bottom and still in trouble.

"We defended very badly today, making many serious mistakes," said coach Javi Gracia.

Later on Sunday, Real Sociedad moved up to fifth with a 1-0 home defeat of Valencia, thanks to a headed goal from Imanol Agirretxe.

Sociedad are two points above sixth-placed Villarreal, who will host Athletic Bilbao today, and also two above Sevilla.

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