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Barca crush Deportivo 5-0 in Spanish league

THIERRY Henry and Samuel Eto'o scored twice each as Barcelona routed Deportivo La Coruna 5-0 yesterday and became the first team in Spanish league history to reach 50 points halfway through a season.

Lionel Messi also scored to combine with Henry and Eto'o for 41 of Barcelona's 59 goals through 19 games.

Barcelona, which was unbeaten since an opening-day defeat, holds a 12-point advantage over Sevilla, which won 1-0 against 10-man Numancia -- the last team to beat Barcelona.

"We've managed to take a lot of points, but there are still things we can achieve and there remains a lot of the season," Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. "What comforts me is this (team) spirit. The day we lose that, it will lead to defeat."

Messi scored his 12th of season in the 21st minute, the Argentina winger collecting a pass from Xavi Hernandez before using his speed to beat three Deportivo players and roll a shot across goal off the inside of the right post.

Henry headed in Daniel Alves' excellent inswinging right cross for his first in the 27th.

Eto'o was then left alone in front of goal to poke home after goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia saved Seydou Keita's point-blank header.

Aranzubia saved Xavi's angled chance in the 82nd but the rebound fell directly to Henry to score his 11th of the season.

Eto'o took his league-leading goal tally to 18 with a penalty in the 86th after Aranzubia was red-carded for a poor tackle on Carles Puyol.

Barcelona controlled the match, with Henry sending a shot straight at Aranzubia only 30 seconds after the kickoff after Messi found the France striker in the penalty area.

Eto'o moved freely down the left in the 15th, dribbling past two defenders, to fire a low shot just wide of far post.

Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado, who threatened early on for Deportivo's only first-half chance, limped out just before Henry's goal with a leg injury that will sideline him for at least a month.

Valdes was finally tested in the 55th with the Barcelona goalkeeper pushing Sergio Gonzalez's header over the bar.

Aranzubia dove to keep Messi's curler out in the 52nd and was alert to substitute Andres Iniesta's volley in the 72nd.

Barcelona, also through to the knockout stage of the Champions League and the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, has dropped only seven points this season.

At Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Jesus Navas picked out Renato at the top of the area in the 82nd and the Brazilian midfielder hit a low winner past Numancia goalkeeper Juan Pablo Colinas.

Sevilla goalkeeper Javier Parras, filling in for the suspended Andres Palop, kept Sevilla in the game with saves against Javier Barkero, Gorka Brit and Asier Goiria before Domingo Cisma was sent off in the 52nd after a second booking.

Luis Fabiano headed over in the 72nd and then shot wide three minutes later before Renato secured Sevilla's fourth straight win in all competitions and 15th-ranked Numancia's 11th defeat of the season.

Elsewhere, new Madrid president Vicente Boluda will be at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to watch the Spanish champions play Osasuna on Sunday, two days after replacing Ramon Calderon, who resigned after being linked to a vote-rigging scandal.

Madrid, which held the previous record of 47 points after 19 games from last season, was third with 35 points.

Valencia, which plays Athletic Bilbao today, was fourth with 34 points -- four more than Atletico Madrid, Villarreal and Deportivo.

Javier Aguirre leads Atletico against Hugo Sanchez's No. 14 Almeria today in La Liga's first all-Mexican coaching matchup.


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