Barcelona produced a dazzling display of attacking football to rout arch-rivals Real Madrid 6-2 in the Bernabeu and all but secure the Primera Liga title.
Two goals apiece from Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry with defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique also on target signaled an humiliating defeat for Real who went into ‘El Clasico’ with renewed hope of retaining the Spanish title. But a mixture of inspired play and comical defending undermined Juande Ramos’ men who had taken the lead as Gonzalo Higuain headed home after 14 minutes. Henry quickly equalized with a clinical finish after Messi’s through ball beat the offside trap before an unmarked Puyol headed Barcelona ahead in the 20th minute from a Xavi free kick. Messi then waltzed through the Real defense after Xavi had cleverly won the ball to put his side 3-1 ahead before the half-time. Sergio Ramos gave Madrid hope in the 56th minute as he headed home an Arjen Robben free kick, but any hopes of a comeback were quickly dashed. Henry raced onto a through ball from the brilliant Xavi for the fourth before Messi made it five with an impudent finish to fox Iker Casillas in the Real goal for his 23rd goal in the league this season.
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The final humiliation saw Samuel Eto’o charge down the right to cross for Pique who twisted cleverly to beat Casillas for the sixth and his first ever La Liga goal. It was Barcelona’s 100th league goal of the season which has brought them 27 wins from 34 matches. Real fans headed rapidly for the exits as they tried to come to terms with the most goals ever scored by Barcelona in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Their side trail by seven points with only four games remaining with a super-confident Barcelona now headed to the second leg of their Champions League semifinal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The first leg was goalless.