Skip to main content

Who needs Messi? Barcelona's big win sends warning to PSG

April 6, 2013 -- Updated 2254 GMT (0654 HKT)
Cesc Fabregas celebrates after completing his hat-trick with Barcelona's fifth goal against Mallorca on Saturday.
Cesc Fabregas celebrates after completing his hat-trick with Barcelona's fifth goal against Mallorca on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cesc Fabregas scores his first hat-trick for Barcelona in absence of injured Lionel Messi
  • Alexis Sanchez scores other two goals in Spanish leaders' 5-0 win over Mallorca
  • Eric Abidal makes his long-awaited return for Barca after liver transplant
  • Champions League opponents PSG extend French lead with win

(CNN) -- While Zlatan Ibrahimovic showed more evidence of his importance to Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday, Barcelona responded with an ominous warning of the club's powers even without Lionel Messi.

With the four-time world player of the year battling to be fit for Wednesday's visit by the French league leaders, having injured his hamstring in last week's 2-2 draw, Cesc Fabregas put up his hand for a role in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal.

In a Messi-esque performance, the Spain midfielder took his chance to impress as he scored his first hat-trick for Barcelona in a 5-0 thrashing of Mallorca that kept the Catalan side 13 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid in La Liga.

Alexis Sanchez, another midfielder who has struggled to consistently impress since his 2011 arrival at the Camp Nou, chimed in with the other two goals.

Gullit: Mourinho will return to Chelsea
CNN FC: Beckham back on big stage
Behind the scenes at Paris St Germain

The match was also notable for the second-half introduction of French defender Eric Adibal, making his first senior appearance since his liver transplant last April.

Read: Zlatan helps PSG to hold Barca

By that stage Tito Vilanova's side, much-changed from the trip to Paris, were already five goals ahead as both Fabregas and Sanchez netted twice in the opening period, toying with the visiting defense.

Fabregas was taken off as a precaution after completing his treble with an assist from Andres Iniesta, but Sanchez hobbled off late with an injury that casts doubt on his fitness for the PSG clash.

Barca hope to have Messi back for that match, as his injury is not as bad as feared.

The Argentine netted the opening goal of the first leg, his 57th this season, but it was Ibrahimovic who had the last word as he set up a late equalizer.

The Sweden forward, who was able to play -- and also score -- last week after having his European suspension halved, has now netted 26 league goals this season following another opportunistic effort in Saturday's 2-0 win at Rennes.

Ibrahimovic finished off from close range in time added on after halftime substitute David Beckham chipped the keeper, denying the veteran Englishman his first goal since signing in January.

Jeremy Menez had earlier scored a fine individual goal as Qatar-funded PSG moved seven points clear at the top of the table after the club's first win at Rennes since 2002.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, came from behind to crush Levante 5-1 as Mesut Ozil scored two late goals after fellow substitute Cristiano Ronaldo also netted -- his 29th in the league, second best behind Messi's 43.

Striker Gonzalo Higuain volleyed a spectacular equalizer while Kaka put Real 2-1 ahead at the break with a penalty.

David Beckham's life in Paris
Ginola on why PSG are worth it

It continued Real's form from last week's 3-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray, ahead of Tuesday's trip to Turkey.

The Istanbul side went seven points clear in the Turkish Super League on Saturday with a 3-1 win at home to Mersin, as veteran striker Didier Drogba scored twice.

Real Sociedad consolidated fourth place in Spain with a 4-2 win against Malaga which established a four-point lead over the visitors with eight games to play.

It dented any hopes Malaga have of playing in next season's Champions League -- if the club's appeal against a suspension for financial fair play discrepancies is successful -- and placed even more importance on Tuesday's second leg of the quarterfinal tie away to German side Borussia Dortmund, which is level at 0-0.

Juventus bounced back from last week's Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich by moving 12 points clear in Italy's Serie A with a 2-1 win over bottom club Pescara on Saturday.

Montenegro striker Mirko Vucinic scored two late goals before a long-range effort from Emmanuel Cascione ensured a tense finish.

Second-placed Napoli host Genoa on Sunday, when third-placed AC Milan travel to Fiorentina.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
Dutch football team head coach Louis van Gaal (L) and Dutch's assistant coach Patrick Kluivert (R) look on before a friendly football match between Belgium and Netherlands in Brussels on August 15, 2012.
Should the Manchester United board have insisted upon a more radical overhaul of the club's football operation when Alex Ferguson stepped down?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
Sunday Oliseh plays for NIgeria at the 1998 World Cup in France.
When Sunday Oliseh was a young boy, he never dreamed he would one day carry the hopes of 170 million people on football's biggest stage.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
ADVERTISEMENT