Barcelona, Madrid held to draws before CL quarters

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 30, 2013 at 6:12 pm •  Published: March 30, 2013
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi's 19th straight scoring effort in the Spanish league wasn't enough to stop Barcelona from drawing 2-2 at Celta Vigo, as the leaders stumbled on Saturday before their Champions League quarterfinal with Paris Saint-Germain.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, also sputtered to a 1-1 draw at Real Zaragoza despite Cristiano Ronaldo's goal, while Malaga won 3-1 at Rayo Vallecano with both teams facing first legs in Europe's final eight this week.

Barcelona appeared to have secured the win when Messi added to his earlier assist to Cristian Tello by scoring in the 73rd minute to extend his record league scoring run to 19 consecutive games. With the goal against Celta, Messi has netted against every other team in Spain's topflight during the streak.

But Barcelona's defense left midfielder Borja Oubina unmarked to head home the tying goal two minutes from time, reawakening doubts about its injury-riddled backline before Tuesday's trip to PSG.

"The streak doesn't matter. What we really wanted was to win this game," said Messi. "I have been fortunate enough to score in these games and help the team keep on winning.

"The victory got away from us at the end, but we have to turn the page. We can't let it distract us. Now we have to rest up to arrive in good shape (to Paris) and get a good result, knowing that it will be an evenly matched contest."

The draw didn't endanger Barcelona's campaign to reclaim the league crown. The Catalan club maintained its 13-point advantage as Madrid seemingly had its sights set on Wednesday's game against Galatasaray in the Champions League.

Zaragoza, which entered the match hovering over the drop zone without a win in its last 11 games, went out the more energized side, and Rodrigo "Rodri" Rios scored six minutes in after Madrid's Luka Modric lost the ball. Ronaldo pulled Madrid even in the 38th with his 28th league goal this season.

Midfielder Pedro Morales scored one goal and set up two more in his first start for Malaga to give it a convincing victory at Rayo before the Costa del Sol side hosts Borussia Dortmund, also on Wednesday.

Morales served up passes for headed goals by Weligton in the 21st and Julio Baptista in the 55th before he capped his fine performance since joining from Dinamo Zagreb in January with a long-range strike four minutes from time.

Elsewhere, Levante edged Sevilla 1-0 from Ruben Garcia's goal to stay in the hunt for a Europa League berth next season.

After a long international break and with the PSG game looming, Barcelona assistant coach Roura rested several of his regular starters, while 21-year-old Martin Montoya and 22-year-old Marc Bartra were picked to patch up Barcelona's depleted defense.

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