Four for Messi as Barca cruise past Osasuna

Madrid, Jan 28 (IANS) "Anything you can do, I can do better." That was the message Barcelona striker Lionel Messi sent to Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

If Ronaldo kicked Sunday off with a hat-trick as his side defeated Getafe 4-0 at midday, Messi went one better with four goals in Barcelona's 5-1 home win against Osasuna Sunday night, reports Xinhua.

Barcelona looked to have recovered from last week's shock defeat away to Real Sociedad as they defeated Malaga 4-2 in the Copa del Rey last Thursday to set up a semifinal tie against Real Madrid.

Perhaps looking ahead to that game, Jordi Roura, who was in charge while Tito Vilanova is receiving cancer treatment, decided to rest players such as Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.

Barcelona opened scoring after just 11 minutes as Xavi Hernandez kept his cool to thread a pinpoint pass to Messi to take the ball past Osasuna keeper Andres Fernandez with a magnificent swivel of his hips which left the keeper helpless.

Raoul Loe equalised for Osasuna with a powerful shot from outside the area in virtually his side's only chance of the half but Messi restored Barca's lead from the penalty spot.

To make matters worse for Osasuna, defender Alejandro Arribas saw a second yellow card for handball as he committed the penalty and his side were left to play with a man less for just over an hour.

Pedro Rodriguez made it 3-1 four minutes from halftime, although there looked to be more than a hint of offside in the goal as Dani Alves ran onto a through ball on the right wing.

Messi added two more goals in quick succession early in the second half to kill off any hopes Osasuna had of a fight back and Roura began a series of changes to rest Perdo, Xavi and Sergio Busquets.

Alexis Sanchez missed a fine chance to make it 6-1 after being set up by Messi and David Villa saw a last minute chance saved by Fernandez but that was the only disappointment as Barca warmed up nicely for Wednesday's Cup Clasico.